A mother whose daughters were murdered by a man who believed he had made a demonic pact to win a lottery jackpot has forgiven their killer, but said it is “too late for apologies” from the police.
Bibaa Henry, 46, was celebrating her sister Nicole Smallman’s 27th birthday in a Wembley park as coronavirus lockdown restrictions loosened in June 2020 when they were stabbed to death by the 19-year-old .
The sisters’ loved ones were then subjected to further heartbreak after it emerged that two Metropolitan Police officers assigned to guard the murder scene – Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis – had taken selfies with the women’s bodies and sent them on WhatsApp to colleagues and friends.
Their mother Mina Smallman has channeled her grief into a campaign to fight violence against women, and has taken part in a new BBC documentary with journalist Stacey Dooley. two daughters is set to air on Sunday, nearly two years on from their murder.
She has also spoken about her unimaginable loss, and how she has tried to cope since her daughters were cruelly taken away.
“I would say to someone who has lost their child in extreme circumstances, try to let the anger go,” Ms Smallman told Guardian.
“You’re not letting your loved one down by letting go. If you imagine them looking down, they would be so upset that you have punctuated your life, so the aggressor, the murderer, wins. Let the anger go.”
Asked whether she would meet him, Ms Smallman said: “No, because he clearly isn’t well. Maybe with some therapy support, years later that might be possible.”
Hussein was found guilty of the sisters’ murder last July, after the Old Bailey heard he had pledged to carry out a “campaign of vengeance” by killing six women every six months in a handwritten agreement with a demon in exchange for winning the £321m Mega Millions Super Jackpot.
The court was told Hussein stabbed Ms Henry eight times before turning to her sister, who suffered 28 stab wounds as she bravely attempted to defend herself.
“What she must have gone through watching Bibaa getting savagely attacked, that’s where we all got really upset,” the 27-year-old’s father Chris told the BBC.
Ms Smallman – who was the Church of England’s first black female archdeacon – said Chris, who she married 30 years ago, and her faith had been a constant source of strength which “has saved me on numerous occasions and at times like this you need it ”.
But she described having dark periods she described in the documentary as “meltdowns”, saying: “It’s like a dam. It’s like, ‘I can’t do this anymore’. Something snaps and when it snaps, to be honest with you, I actually want to join my girls. I don’t want to be here.
“It’s only because the girls have gone, and I know the pain it has caused to lose someone you love, I couldn’t do it to Chris and Monique” – a 47-year-old who is the first of two daughters, including Bibaa, whom Ms Smallman conceived during her first marriage, to former boxer Herman Henry.
“What keeps me going is justice for all women,” she said, adding: “I will always speak out. People needed to see what effect this kind of thing has on a family.”
Despite her evident capacity for forgiveness, Ms Smallman told The Sun it was “too late for apologies” when it came to the police failings in the wake of her daughters’ murder.
The Metropolitan Police apologized last October after the police watchdog found Scotland Yard had mishandled the initial missing persons reports by the sisters’ friends and family, with information recorded inaccurately and the call handler initially “dismissive”.
Family members then launched their own search for the women, and Smallman’s boyfriend, Adam Stone, found their bodies in bushes 36 hours after the killings.
Ms Smallman expressed scorn this week that, despite her belief – shared by multiple former police chiefs – that the initial police response was rooted in racial profiling and classism, the watchdog concluded that it was “unacceptable” but not rooted in bias.
These failings by the Met were in addition to the actions of the two police officers assigned to guard the murder scene, who were each jailed in December for two years and nine months after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office.
Rejecting an appeal in May to shorten their sentences, judge Mark Lucraft QC, the Recorder of London, told Jaffer and Lewis they “wholly disregarded” the victims’ privacy “for what could only have been some sort of cheap thrill, kudos, a kick or bragging rights”.
As well as undermining trust in policing, the pair risked the integrity of the crime scene in such a way that enabled the sisters’ murderer to falsely claim that the officers may have contaminated evidence at the crime scene, the judge said.
While she had initially offered to meet with the two jailed officers “to be a mirror so they can look at the mother of the two girls they took photos of”, Ms Smallman said she withdrew her offer after their “bull****” attempt to appeal their sentence, telling Guardian she didn’t want them to “use it as part of their defence”.
“Before I heard about the selfies the police officers took, I’d never imagined what my girls looked like and then I would get these awful flashes,” she told The Sun.
“That’s my imagination but [Mr Stone] saw it in reality. How do you unsee what you have seen? If the police had just done their jobs, he would never have had to see what he saw.”
two daughters will be broadcast on BBC Two tonight at 9pm
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.