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PC who bought porn while child lay dead in house is jailed

PC Avi Maharaj Image copyright PA Media
Image caption PC Avi Maharaj was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to fraud

A police officer who bought pornography at the family home of a dead child has been jailed for 12 months.

Met PC Avi Maharaj was asked to guard the house on 11 February 2018 while the family was "being consoled elsewhere" after their 14-year-old son had taken his own life.

Maharaj guessed the password to the household Virgin Media account and downloaded four pornographic films.

He was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

Maharaj, 44, of Kingswood Place, Hayes, had previously pleaded guilty to fraud.

The family had initially thought their son had downloaded the clips before realising Maharaj was responsible.

'Gross lack of decency'

Sentencing, Judge Deborah Taylor told him that while the parents of the boy were grieving elsewhere he had responsibility to guard the house.

"Instead of performing that duty with respect and professionalism, you took it upon yourself to guess the password to the household Virgin Media account, to act as if you were the account holder, and use it to purchase, download and view four pornography films."

The judge added the family were "vulnerable, traumatised by the loss of their son, and trusted you to guard their house" and his actions had led to a "false understanding of their son's last hours".

"All right-thinking people would be appalled by your gross lack of decency and respect in indulging yourself at all in those circumstances, let alone deviously, and at the expense of the bereaved parents."

Upset 'image of son'

Pc Maharaj was supposed to be waiting for the undertaker to take the body away when he downloaded pornography worth £25.96.

He then falsified his attendance logs, claiming he left the property in Littleton Street almost two hours earlier than he really did as part of a bid to cover up his actions, the court heard.

In a letter, the boy's father, Graham Miller, said Maharaj's actions had initially "upset" his image of his son, adding it "made me feel like I didn't know my own son".

The boy's father only realised his son was not responsible for the downloads when he contacted Virgin Media and was told what time the clips were downloaded.

Maharaj, who was based in Earlsfield, Wandsworth, initially denied the allegations when interviewed by police, the court heard.

"He provided officers with a prepared statement in which he denied the allegation and questioned security of the premises," Prosecutor Gregor McKinley said.

Edmund Gritt, representing Maharaj, said the defendant "expressed his wholly ashamed apologies to the Miller family".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Avi Maharaj pleaded guilty to fraud at Westminster Magistrates' Court in July

Mr Gritt told the court that Maharaj's guilty plea would "terminate" his police career "forever".

He added it was "inevitable" he would be dismissed.

The Met officer's conviction follows a complaint from a member of the child's family, which led to an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The IOPC's regional director Sal Naseem described PC Maharaj's behaviour as "shocking" and "deceitful", adding that he "caused considerable distress for the family involved who were dealing with the sudden death of a family member".

The Met said there would be a special case hearing on Monday.

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