Police officer convicted of misconduct in connection with vigilante murder


A police officer and a community support officer have been convicted of misconduct in connection with the murder of a disabled man in a vigilante attack.

Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was beaten to death and his body set on fire by neighbour Lee James, who wrongly believed he was a paedophile, in Bristol on July 14 2013.

James, of Brislington, was later jailed for life for the murder, while Stephen Norley, who lived next door, was jailed for four years for assisting an offender.

Pcs Leanne Winter, 38, Kevin Duffy, 52 and Helen Harris, 40, and PCSO Andrew Passmore, 56, were accused of letting their dislike of Mr Ebrahimi influence their decision making.

Mr Ebrahimi, an Iranian national, was beaten unconscious and set alight shortly after 1am, days after James told police he would "do time to protect his children".

On the Friday before, Mr Ebrahimi had made 12 calls to police fearing for his safety and reporting a mob outside his flat at Capgrave Crescent in Brislington.

Following a seven-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, Duffy was convicted of misconduct in a public office.

Harris and Winter were cleared of the charge.

Passmore was acquitted of misconduct in a public office by failing to carry out any or an adequate patrol around Mr Ebrahimi's home.

But he was convicted of misconduct in a public office by falsely claiming to have spent an hour patrolling the area during an interview with murder detectives.

The jury, of seven women and five men, returned their verdicts following three days of deliberations.

The court previously heard that on the evening of July 11, Mr Ebrahimi dialled 999 and reported that James had come into his flat and head-butted him.

James believed Mr Ebrahimi had filmed his children but he was actually recording anti-social behaviour to submit to Bristol City Council.

When Winter and Harris arrived, James was crying with anger and frothing at the mouth. They did not see any injuries on Mr Ebrahimi.

A mob had formed outside and James was heard shouting: "Paedo! I'm going to f****** kill you."

Winter and Harris arrested Mr Ebrahimi for an alleged breach of the peace.

As he was led away from his home, the crowd cheered, clapped and shouted "paedophile".

While in custody, Harris told Mr Ebrahimi: "All you are doing is upsetting the residents... and antagonising them.

"I'm a police officer and you're a pain in the ass. Don't speak to me."

Mr Ebrahimi was released from custody the following day, July 12, and made 12 calls to police non-emergency number 101.

He was informed that Duffy, his local beat manager, would visit him.

"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.

Duffy refused to speak to him and said he would call Mr Ebrahimi back at his own convenience.

The officer asked Passmore to conduct a "bit of a foot patrol" around Capgrave Crescent.

On July 13, Mr Ebrahimi tried to contact Duffy and Winter.

He phoned police at 00.12am on July 14 asking for Winter.

The officer told a call operator: "I'm absolutely not interested in speaking to him ever."

Witnesses saw James repeatedly stamp on Mr Ebrahimi's head with his right foot, telling him "have some of that".

CCTV footage captured a blaze starting at 1.35am, which a paramedic extinguished 10 minutes later.

James later told his partner: "We set him on fire. He is not going to take photos any more. Tell the girls I did it for them and you. We took care of things."

A post-mortem examination found Mr Ebrahimi, who had problems with his mobility and suffered from depression, died before he was set alight.