Police officer jailed for downloading pornography after 14-year-old boy’s death
A Metropolitan Police officer who used a grieving father's cable TV account to download pornography while waiting for an undertaker has been jailed for 12 months.
Avi Maharaj, 44, downloaded four adult clips while at a property in south London on February 11 2018 following the death of a 14-year-old boy who was found hanged at the address.
The officer's actions led the father to believe his son had been accessing pornography before his death, Southwark Crown Court heard on Thursday.
Pc Maharaj was supposed to be guarding the house at the time and waiting for the undertaker to take the body away when he used the family's Virgin Media account to download 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.
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".
Sentencing Maharaj at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Deborah Taylor said: "All right-thinking people would be appalled by your gross lack of decency and respect in indulging yourself at all in those circumstances."
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.
Prosecutor Gregor McKinley said data from Virgin Media showed four adult films were downloaded between 11pm and 11.42pm, costing £6.49 each.
Mr McKinley said Maharaj claimed he left the premises at 11.58pm but the police vehicle remained parked outside the address until 1.44am.
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," Mr McKinley said.
"He said the backdoor to the premises was insecure."
Maharaj pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation at Westminster Magistrates' Court on July 16.
Edmund Gritt, mitigating, said the defendant "expressed his wholly ashamed apologies to the Miller family".
"He acknowledges his conduct was abject and without any thought to possible consequences," he said.
"There was a press report in Evening Standard that said Mr Miller had forgiven Mr Maharaj.
"He said he feels honoured by that but also disgusted with himself in the face of that forgiveness."
The court heard Maharaj's guilty plea will "terminate" his police career "forever".
Mr Gritt said there will be a special case hearing on September 9 and it was "inevitable" he will be dismissed.
Judge Taylor sentenced Maharaj, of Darwin Court, Kings Wood Place, Hayes, to 12 months in prison.
Speaking when Maharaj was convicted in July, Independent Office for Police Conduct regional director Sal Naseem said: "Pc Maharaj's behaviour was shocking and even more so given he was guarding the property in the absence of the homeowner.
"Not only were his actions deceitful but he caused considerable distress for the family involved who were dealing with the sudden death of a family member.
"I am sorry that the family involved had to deal with this while also coping with the tragic loss of their child."