A neighbour who posted pictures on Facebook of a dead victim believed to have leapt to his death from the Grenfell Tower inferno has been jailed for three months.
Omega Mwaikambo, 43, was hauled before the courts after posting the distressing picture of the body bag and then close ups of the male victim after opening it on Wednesday morning.
He posted one video and two pictures of the body bag with the man inside and then later five pictures of the victim’s face and body after opening it to look inside.
Today at Westminster Magistrates Court he pleaded guilty to two counts of sending by a public communications network an offending, indecent or obscene matter.
Mwaikambo, who lives just yards away from the tower, had watched the blaze engulf the building throughout the night and had made cups of tea for firefighters as they battled the blaze.
However later on Wednesday morning he saw a body bag outside his flat and took the photos on his iPad and uploaded them to Facebook.
Prosecutor Tom Little said: ‘He lives very close to Grenfell Tower as the court will be aware for the catastrophic fire on June 14.
‘He uploaded photographs and video of the deceased inside the body bag and then five photographs of the upper body and the face and the blood that had drained from the body.
‘It appears as if that individual might have been someone that jumped from the tower and had not survived and was waiting to be moved to the coroner’s mortuary.’
After his arrest he provided the police with the pin to his iPad and phone and the images were taken down from the web.
Mr Little said the offences were high culpability because ‘even the fact of the death would not have been known to the family’ of the victim at this early stage.
The court heard the victim has yet to be identified and the defendant had been kept in custody for his own safety after his arrest.
Michelle Denney for the defence said ‘It was an unusual case’ and Mwaikambo, who has not previous convictions, had been making tea for the firefighters.
She said: ‘He found the deceased person and was shocked by the fact the body was there and felt a sense of shock that the body was then left unattended
[photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000ekjpg8y0bHU” g_name=”All-Tower-Fire” width=”100%” f_fullscreen=”t” bgtrans=”t” pho_credit=”iptc” twoup=”f” f_bbar=”t” f_bbarbig=”f” fsvis=”f” f_show_caption=”t” crop=”f” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_l=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”f” f_show_slidenum=”t” f_topbar=”f” f_show_watermark=”t” img_title=”casc” linkdest=”c” trans=”xfade” target=”_self” tbs=”5000″ f_link=”t” f_smooth=”f” f_mtrx=”t” f_ap=”t” f_up=”f” height=”400″ btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” ] The defendant had tried to find someone to come and help but ‘there was not one else in sight’ and took the photos to ‘show how the victim was being treated’ and get someone’s attention.
She said: ‘He was not someone that has gone to the scene to look at what’s going on in some macabre way.’
She added her client had witnessed a lot of the terrible things throughout the night, it was an ‘error in judgement’ to post the images and ‘would not have done so had he not witness some of the traumatic events that unfolded’.
Ms Denney said: ‘He accepts he should have taken them down and he accepts posting the images was ill conceived.
‘He apologises to the victim’s family any all the other victims for what he has done.’
Sentencing District Judge Tanweer Ikram said: ‘The whole country, if not the whole world, has been shocked by what has taken place in the last few days in relation to the fire at Grenfell Tower.
‘The horror is not to be underestimated.
‘The dignity of the dead must always be respected.
‘What you have done by uploading those photos shows absolutely no respect to this poor victim. To show his face as he lies there is beyond words.
‘That view is shared in the horror and disgust that is shown by those people that have uploaded messages on your profile.
‘It is an aggravating feature that when people said to you ‘This is really sick, just call the police’ and ‘call the cops rather than post photos’, you didn’t.
‘You didn’t remove the photos.
‘These offences are so serious that a community order or financial penalty would not mark the seriousness of the offence.’
The judge accepted Mwaikambo had no previous convictions and was remorseful for what he did, but with the events of the fire the case was ‘unprecedented’.
Mwaikambo, of Testerton Walk, was given six weeks for each charge to run consecutively and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £115 and and costs of £85.