A highly-decorated police officer’s appeal against her conviction for having a child abuse video on her phone has today been refused by the Court of Appeal.
Novlett Robyn Williams, 56, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for possession of an indecent image in November 2019.
Her trial at the Old Bailey heard that Williams received the video via WhatsApp from her older sister Jennifer Hodge, 57, who had originally been sent the clip by her long-term boyfriend, 63-year-old Dido Massivi.
Williams – who has since been sacked without notice by the Metropolitan Police for ‘gross misconduct’ – appealed against both her conviction and her sentence at a hearing today.
She attended the Royal Courts of Justice in London for her appeal, as did Hodge and Massivi who were also challenging their convictions.
Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams, pictured arriving at the Old Bailey for sentencing in November 2019
Williams – who has since been sacked without notice by the Metropolitan Police for ‘gross misconduct’ – appealed against both her conviction and her sentence at a hearing today
At the conclusion of the hearing, Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice Ellenbogen, refused all of the appeals.
The judge said: ‘The applications made on behalf of all three appellants in this case are refused for reasons which will be handed down later.’
Williams’ barrister Anesta Weekes QC earlier told the court there was ‘not even a suggestion’ that her client had watched the 54-second video and that she was ‘the only one’ of the recipients who had not watched it.
She said the case against Williams at trial was that ‘there was a clear image and you were looking at a thumbnail for some 12 seconds, so you must have seen that indecent image’.
Ms Weekes told the court that expert evidence suggested that ‘the image had been sufficiently downloaded and the experts said ‘it is our view that the image would have been clear’.
But Ms Weekes said that the experts were not able to properly examine Williams’ phone, adding: ‘There is an element of unfairness here if you do not even have the very phone and you cannot demonstrate on the phone … how clear it (the thumbnail) would be.’
Richard Wright QC, for the Crown, said: ‘The experts were plainly not giving evidence about what Ms Williams did see.
Supt Novlett Robyn Williams pictured with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in September 2016. Supt Williams is a founding member of the National Black Police Association
‘They were giving evidence about what was present on her phone to be seen and that was the central issue in the case and one which required expert evidence to reconstruct the thumbnail, its clarity, its size and how it would have appeared in the absence of the original thumbnail.’
Williams was sentenced to 200 hours community service for possessing an indecent image at the Old Bailey in November 2019.
The Met Police officer was ‘disappointed and devastated’ by the decision, according to the Police Superintendents Association, which had supported her through the trial and the disciplinary process.
The Met Police officer was called to the hearing over allegations she had breached standards of professional behaviour following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Following her dismissal, the Met said in a statement: ‘An independent investigation was carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the MPS agreed with the IOPC that Supt Williams should face a special case hearing following her conviction.
‘Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball, professionalism, sitting with a legal adviser, conducted the hearing and found that Supt Williams’ conviction was discreditable conduct and amounted to gross misconduct.
‘The MPS is aware Supt Williams has lodged an application for leave to appeal her conviction with the Court of Appeal.
‘However, the regulations under which this special case hearing was held require such hearings take place without delay.’
Hodge was sentenced to 100 hours’ unpaid work after being convicted of distributing an indecent image of a child.
She received the footage from her partner, bus driver Massivi, who was found guilty of the same count as well as possessing extreme pornography.
Massivi was handed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.