Activism

What Is Happening With The Nicole Smallman & Bibaa Henry Case?

Charges have been brought but the family still needs answers on the police’s handling of the case.

Protest sign saying "Justice for Nicole Smallman, Bibaa Henry, & Blessing Olusegun"
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On June 6 2020, sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry were found stabbed to death in Fryent Country Park, London. Just hours before, they were pictured celebrating Bibaa’s 46th birthday with friends. While news of their murder was tragic enough, it was later reported that two police officers had taken “non-official and inappropriate photographs” at the crime scene. At the time, Nicole and Bibaa’s family said that their case had not been taken seriously from the start and racial stereotyping played a part in the mishandling of it.

On July 6, 19-year-old Danyal Hussein was found guilty of murdering Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman. Two police officers, Pc Deniz Jaffer and Pc Jamie Lewis, have also been charged with misconduct in public office after taking “non-official and inappropriate photographs” of the murder scene, the BBC reports. They’re due to appear in court on July 13, 2021.

After the Hussein verdict, the victims’ mother, Mina Smallman, spoke to Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Smallman said, “It’s the worst thing that can happen to you. You have the result but you still don’t have your daughters. There’s no peace really. Do I feel a sense of relief or joy? No, I don’t. I feel justice has been done but there’s still work to be done.” The family are now waiting on the court procedures against the two police officers. “I don’t have an agenda to topple anything,” Smallman said, “What I want to do is make things better so what happened to us never happen to anybody else.”

Here’s a timeline of what’s happened with Bibaa and Nicole’s case, plus what you can do to help in the fight for justice for them.

What Happened To Nicole Smallman & Bibaa Henry?

On June 5 at around 7 p.m., 27-year-old photographer Nicole attended a birthday gathering for her half-sister Bibaa, a social worker, in Fryent Country Park, North London. They were with friends, celebrating and images have since been released by the police of the sisters dancing with fairy lights in their hands. It’s been reported that they stayed out later than everyone else, their last contact with family and friends happening at 1.05 a.m.

Speaking to the Guardian, DCI Simon Harding, who is leading the murder inquiry, said, “They were in good spirits and taking selfie pictures, listening to music and dancing with fairy lights until at least 1.13 a.m.” Police have said that the sisters failed to answer phone calls from 2.30 a.m.

When Nicole and Bibaa didn’t return home, their family reported them missing on June 6. However, it wasn’t until roughly 1 p.m. on June 7 that Nicole's boyfriend found both her and Bibaa's bodies in the park. The sisters died in the early hours of June 6. Nicole's boyfriend also found a knife, and a post-mortem examination stated multiple stab wounds was the cause of death of both women.

The Police Investigation & The Photographs

Adam, Nicole's boyfriend, found the bodies of the two sisters after their mother was forced to coordinate her own search to find them. Mina told the BBC that the Met Police didn’t immediately respond when she made it known that Nicole and Bibaa were missing. "I knew instantly why they didn't care,” she said. “They didn't care because they looked at my daughter's address and thought they knew who she was. A Black woman who lives on a council estate."

On top of the alleged inertia from the responding officers (which is currently being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)), the tragedy for Nicole and Bibaa's family was compounded by an incident that came to light a few days later.

It was discovered that photographs had been taken by two police officers at the crime scene where the bodies were found. The IOPC have since said the pictures were allegedly "shared with a small number of others" – including members of the public.

Speaking about this to the BBC, Mina said: "Those police officers dehumanised our children," she said, adding that news of the photographs took their grief "to another place."

She continued:

"If ever we needed an example of how toxic it has become, those police officers felt so safe, so untouchable, that they felt they could take photographs of dead Black girls and send them on. It speaks volumes of the ethos that runs through the Metropolitan Police."

What Has Happened To The Officers Involved?

Following an investigation from the IOPC, which was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service in November 2020, PC Deniz Jaffer and PC Jamie Lewis are charged with misconduct in public office. They will appear at the Old Baily on July 13, 2021.

A separate inquiry has been opened by the IOPC into six more officers who received or viewed the pictures or were aware of their existence but didn’t report them. These investigations continue and 13 officers in total have been told that their behaviour is under review.

Has The Killer Been Arrested?

Danyal Hussein was found guilty of the murder of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman on July 6. The Independent details that he targeted the sisters as part of a killing spree. He believed he’d made a pact with a “demon” that if he killed six women every six months he’d win a £321m lottery jackpot. The BBC writes that Hussein had an interest in mythology, Satanism, and the occult. The only reason he was caught was because he cut himself when he attacked Henry and Smallman and police tracked his DNA. He’s being convicted for two accounts of murder and has also be found guilty of possessing an offensive weapon.

What Can You Do To Help?

While Hussein is now behind bars, the investigation into the police’s handling of the case is still ongoing.

One important thing you can do is raise awareness about Nicole and Bibaa's case by sharing information on social media and talking to people in your life about it. This will help to apply pressure on the Met and the IPOC to get to the bottom of what happened.

Nicole and Bibaa's family have set up a petition to call for formal criminal charges to be brought against the two officers who allegedly took and distributed the photographs so “these officers are never given an opportunity to disrespect anyone ever again in the way that they have our two girls.” Those who wish to sign it can do so here.

You can also write to your MP about this case and ask them to act on behalf of their constituents who want to see justice for Bibaa, Nicole, and their family.

Editorial note: This piece was updated on July 7 to reflect the latest news in the Nicole Smallman & Bibaa Henry case.

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