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Officer in probe for 'sitting on evidence' relating to UK's first acid attack killer


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Victim's family praises Thames Valley but feels 'let down by Met over CCTV error'.

Xeneral Webster: 17-year jail term for acid attacker

Xeneral Webster: 17-year jail term for acid attacker

Date - 30th January 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
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An officer accused of holding onto CCTV evidence for 20 months enabling a suspect to go on to carry out the UK’s first acid killing is facing a watchdog probe.

The family of Joanne Rand who was killed by a teenager in an acid attack feel “let down” by the Met Police, claiming she might still be alive if the force had not allegedly allowed her attacker to slip through the net.

Ms Rand was fatally wounded when she was hit with high-strength sulphuric acid in June 2017 during an altercation between Xeneral Webster and a member of the public.

It has subsequently emerged Webster was the prime suspect in a separate acid attack, committed on a woman in north London four months before.

The Scotland Yard detective constable allegedly failed to circulate CCTV images after the March 2017 north London attack in which a woman suffered "significant hand and leg injuries".

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said it was alleged the images were not released until November 2018 – and three days later the suspect was identified as Webster, who had just started a 17-year jail term for killing Ms Rand.

The IOPC said the officer is being investigated for gross misconduct for alleged breaches of professional standards relating to his duties and responsibilities, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct. It will not be a criminal inquiry.

The investigation is looking at the officer's handling of the case and whether it was in line with the Met's policies and procedures.

The watchdog informed Ms Rand's family last week about the circumstances around Webster.

The family believes the 47-year-old carer for dementia patients would not have been attacked had Webster been dealt with at the time.

In a statement, the family said: "We are deeply upset and disappointed.

"This was hard news to hear as we are all still struggling to cope with the loss of Jo.

"Had this acid attack in March 2017 been investigated properly at the time, Webster the alleged perpetrator would have been dealt with and may not have been free to carry out the horrific attack in June 2017 on Jo and she may still be with us."

They added: "We feel very concerned for the lady who was the victim of this (original) attack.

"We know some of what she may be going through as we saw all of the pain and suffering that Jo went through.”

While criticising the Met, the family says it has “nothing but praise” for another force – Thames Valley Police – which “worked so hard and tirelessly for us and Jo”.

The family went on: “We are grateful for all the support they gave our family but we feel let down by the Metropolitan Police."

IOPC regional director Jonathan Green said: "This investigation raises the very serious question about the way in which a Metropolitan Police Service officer may have handled a crucial piece of evidence which may have identified the suspect of an acid attack.

“Undoubtedly the escalation in acid attacks is alarming and Londoners will expect that the Metropolitan Police Service treat all reported incidents of such attacks seriously and to investigate them thoroughly.

"Our investigation will be rigorous in challenging how this evidence relating to the circulation of CCTV images was handled and seek to uncover whether other victims of crime may have been impacted upon as a result of any shortfalls."

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