Bijan Ebrahimi: PC and PCSO guilty of misconduct
- 21 December 2015
- From the section Bristol
A PC and a community support officer have been convicted of misconduct in a public office after the "vigilante" murder of a man by his neighbour.
Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was murdered on an estate in Bristol in July 2013 amid false claims he was a paedophile.
He repeatedly called police for help in the days before, the trial heard, but had been seen as a "nuisance".
PC Kevin Duffy and Andrew Passmore were convicted of misconduct but PCs Leanne Winter and Helen Harris were cleared.
The four Avon and Somerset officers were accused of letting their dislike of Mr Ebrahimi influence their decision making.
Iranian-born Mr Ebrahimi, who was registered disabled, was beaten to death by neighbour Lee James outside his flat in Capgrave Crescent, Brislington, in July 2013.
His body was set alight.
Days earlier he had called police to report James had assaulted him.
James believed Mr Ebrahimi had filmed his children but he was actually recording anti-social behaviour to submit to Bristol City Council.
Vigilantism 'in the air'
The trial heard PC Winter and PC Harris did not see any injuries on Mr Ebrahimi.
Instead they arrested him for an alleged breach of the peace.
A crowd gathered outside his flat cheered and James shouted: "Paedo! I'm going to kill you." The court heard "vigilantism was in the air".
After being released the following morning, Mr Ebrahimi repeatedly tried to get police to investigate his complaint against James and called the non-emergency 101 number 12 times. He was told his local beat manager - Duffy - would visit.
"My life is in danger. Right now a few of my neighbours are outside and shouting and calling me a paedophile. I need to see PC Duffy," Mr Ebrahimi told one operator.
But the trial heard Duffy, 52, saw him as a "liar and a nuisance" and never went to see him.
He asked Passmore to conduct a "bit of a foot patrol" around Capgrave Crescent.
Passmore, 56, was convicted of misconduct in a public office by falsely claiming during a police interview to have spent an hour patrolling the area around Mr Ebrahimi's home.
'Crying for help'
Mr Ebrahimi's family claimed their brother was the victim of racism for years.
Speaking outside court, his sister Mojgan Khayatian said there had been a clear failure by police.
She said: "Bijan was crying for help not one time, not twice, not three times. He made several phone calls and ignoring these phone calls for somebody who's very vulnerable, who's got a history of being vulnerable and seeking help from police for years, it was even worse."
James was convicted of murder in 2013 and is serving a life sentence.
Another Capgrave Crescent resident, Stephen Norley, was sentenced to four years for assisting an offender.
Eighteen Avon and Somerset Police officers and staff - including Duffy, Passmore, Harris and Winter - still face internal police misconduct proceedings. Nine of them face gross misconduct charges.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe described Mr Ebrahimi's murder as "senseless"
She added: "This tragedy should never have happened. A great deal has been done to understand and reflect on the events in the weeks leading up to Mr Ebrahimi's death."
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said it was "clear that on this occasion the constabulary failed local people and let down a vulnerable man in his own home".
Duffy and Passmore were released on unconditional bail, with sentencing adjourned to a date to be fixed in 2016.