Bristol

Bijan Ebrahimi: Sisters' pain over murdered man 'failed' by police

Mr Ebrahimi's sisters Manisha, Mojgan and Ladan
Image caption Bijan Ebrahimi's sisters said they were in pain every day over his death

As a PC and a PCSO are convicted of misconduct in a public office, over the way they responded to murder victim Bijan Ebrahimi's cries for help, his sisters tell the BBC about the "unimaginably painful" two years since his death and their anger at the way he was treated.

It's been more than two years since the "vigilante" murder of Iranian-born Bijan Ebrahimi on a Bristol estate but for his sisters Manisha, Mojgan and Ladan, there has been no closure.

The man who beat their younger brother to death and burnt his body, Lee 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.

But the sisters have sat through another trial in the last few weeks, that of the police officers their brother turned to for help.

In July that year James had wrongly accused Mr Ebrahimi of being a paedophile and had boasted he would "do time" to protect his children.

A crowd gathered outside Mr Ebrahimi's flat, chanting abuse. But when he called police to report he had been assaulted by James, the PCs who turned up arrested him instead - while the mob cheered.

James's threats were overlooked by police, the trial heard, while Mr Ebrahimi's complaint was not properly investigated.

Video footage released show one PC calling Mr Ebrahimi a "pain in the ass" as he sat in the police station that night - he was released without charge the next morning. He called police 12 times that day trying to get the beat officer to visit him and deal with his complaint.

But beat manager Kevin Duffy saw him as a "liar and a nuisance" and never went to see him, the court was told. Mr Ebrahimi had made repeated calls to police over many years.

Two days later he was beaten to death outside his own flat by James.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Mr Ebrahimi came to England from Iran in 2001, in search of a better life

Mr Ebrahimi's sisters told BBC News that watching how police had treated him in his final days had been "unimaginably painful".

"In the days that he really needed them, they ignored his cries for help and they didn't take him seriously," said Manisha Moores.

She believes he could have been alive today if they had "done their job properly" but instead police had sent him "back to the mob".

"We would like them to take this case very seriously and to make fundamental changes to the way they are responding to people like Bijan because we don't want ever for this to happen to anyone else."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Ebrahimi had filmed his murderer, Lee James, threatening him in his home

His family believe Bijan Ebrahimi was the victim of racism on the estate and had been "let down" by the police for years. Bristol anti-racism charity SARI said he had suffered racial harassment from "a large number of people" in the neighbourhood.

Disability Rights UK said at the time that Mr Ebrahimi, who had an acute back problem and was registered disabled, was not the only disabled murder victim to be falsely accused of paedophilia.

PC Duffy, who had denied having any "deep-seated animosity" towards Mr Ebrahimi, and PCSO Passmore, who falsely claimed to have spent an hour patrolling the area, were convicted of misconduct in a public office. Two others, PC Leanne Winter and PC Helen Harris were cleared of the same charge.

The IPCC will publish two reports on investigations about police contact with Mr Ebrahimi - one looking at the period immediately before his murder, the other looking at "historic" contact with him in the six years prior to his death.

No date has been confirmed for their publication while other proceedings continue.

Eighteen officers - including the four who were on trial - still face police misconduct hearings, which are due to be held next year.

No inquest has yet been held into Mr Ebrahimi's death and the findings of a Bristol City Council review into the circumstances surrounding his death has not yet been published.

Mojgan Khayatian told BBC News: "We get reminded every day because this process is ongoing. We haven't any closure to Bijan's death."

She said her brother had been "failed terribly" by the police.

"We are in pain every day. We have lost our normality... we have lost our youngest member of the family, our lovely, wonderful brother... and our life is never going to be the same."

Louisa Rolfe, the temporary deputy chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, said Mr Ebrahimi's murder was "senseless" and praised his family for their "great dignity and courage".

She said: "This tragedy should never have happened" and a "great deal" had been done to look at what happened in the weeks before the murder.

"We have changed and improved the way we work and will continue to work with our partners to do everything in our power to prevent such a dreadful event happening again. We had to wait until the end of the criminal trial before any [internal police] misconduct proceedings could begin.

"A large amount of preliminary work has already been undertaken in the interim period to plan as far as possible but now the trial is concluded, we are keen to instigate the disciplinary proceedings at the earliest opportunity and are in discussions with the IPCC to establish a date for them to begin. "

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