28 July 2022

Police officer accused of ‘acting out rape fantasy’ in messages to Wayne Couzens

28 July 2022

A serving Metropolitan Police officer has been accused of “acting out a rape fantasy” following comments he made about restraining a teenage girl in a group Whatsapp with Sarah Everard’s killer.

William Neville, 34, described the time he “pinned a 15-year-old girl going mental on the floor” as deploying a “struggle snuggle”, in a message to a group chat with six other officers, including Wayne Couzens.

Neville, from Weybridge, Surrey, is charged alongside another serving Met constable, Jonathon Cobban, 35, and former Pc Joel Borders, 45, with sending “grossly offensive” messages in the chat, called “Bottle and Stoppers”.

Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that “grossly racist, sexist, misogynistic” messages were sent on the chat between April 5 and August 9 2019.

The messages were discovered on Couzens’ phone after he was arrested last year.

All three defendants were formerly officers in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, and transferred to the Met on February 11 2019.

Serving Metropolitan Police Pc William Neville arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, on Thursday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA). (PA Wire)

Each has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which relate to improper use of public electronic communications network, contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

The court heard that on August 9, 2019, Neville described his first call as “an urgent assistant” where he “pinned a 15-year-old girl going mental on the floor”.

He wrote: “I knew all the struggle snuggles would come in useful at some point.”

Cobban, who volunteered to be a race and diversity custodian for his unit, replied: “Haha struggle snuggles are always useful… good skills!”

Speaking about Neville, prosecutor Edward Brown QC said: “He got pleasure from the detention of a 15-year-old girl with what he called a ‘struggle snuggle’.

“We submit that this is acting out a rape fantasy or other non-consensual physical touching.

“Cobban encourages this, and comments ‘haha’, displaying an amused reaction.”

Mr Brown suggested that the expression “struggle snuggle” implies “using lawful physical restraint as an excuse or cover for non-consensual physical or sexual contact”.

He said: “We submit this is to be wholly demeaning and grossly offensive to any young girl who expected and deserved sympathetic treatment from a police officer on duty, and to be grossly offensive to the wider public.”

Serving Metropolitan police officer Jonathon Cobban arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, on Thursday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA). (PA Wire)

Nicholas Yeo, defending, disputed this interpretation.

Mr Yeo said: “The suggestion that from that message one can gather that there’s a reference to a rape fantasy is an overreach.”

“In my submission, the language may be light-hearted but it is incapable of bearing that meaning,” he added.

“The only meaning that one can draw is that it is a reference to some sort of police skill and the reference to some sort of police force in the context of detaining and individual.”

Other messages read to the court included a comment by Cobban, from Didcot, Oxfordshire, about domestic violence victims.

The court heard that on June 21, Cobban was told by an unnamed sender that he could not be “ditched” by the Met because of his “skill sets”, unless he went so far as to sexually assault “a DV (domestic violence) victim”.

Cobban replied: “That’s alright, DV victims love it… that’s why they are repeat victims more often than not.”

Mr Brown said these messages “target the most vulnerable in society who often feel unable to report abuse to police”.

He added: “We submit that this is grossly offensive to right thinking members of society and of course particularly to domestic abuse victims.

“Police officers should represent a safe haven for victims of domestic violence.

“Such derogatory comments about victims of domestic abuse serve to undermine this important policing objective.”

He also said the comments made in the group chat suggest “that victims are encouraging, provoking or at least deserving of abuse to which they are subjected”.

Cobban is also accused of comparing Hounslow to a “f****** Somali shit-hole” on June 29 and describing patrolling the town centre as “walking along a Dulux colour code”.

Speaking about a hospital patient, he reportedly said: “I dealt with one of those, hospital guard for some attention seeking self-harming fag.”

He also allegedly said he was “hoping to get a fight or something to prove myself”.

Serving Metropolitan police officer Jonathon Cobban arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, on Thursday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA). (PA Wire)

Meanwhile, Borders, from Preston, Lancashire, is accused of speaking about raping a female colleague on April 25.

Speaking about the colleague with Cobban, he said: “She will use me as an example. Lead me on then get me locked up when I rape and beat her!

“Sneaky bitch.”

Earlier that month, he also allegedly told Cobban: “I can’t wait to get on guns so I can shoot some c*** in the face”.

Cobban allegedly replied to this saying he wanted to “Taser a cat and a dog to see which reacts better”, adding: “Same with children. Zap zap you little f******”.

In his police interviews, Cobban has said he regretted sending the messages, describing them as “stupid”.

Referring to his comments about the Hounslow community being a “Dulux chart”, he said: “This comment was in relation to the vibrancy of the area.

“It was a shock to see… I was new to the area.”

Borders described his comments as “dark humour which I appreciate will offend some people”.

He said: “I was professional on the job and I don’t think rape is a joke and I don’t think violence against women is a joke.”

Borders said that at the time the messages were sent he had been a training officer and had no experience in domestic abuse cases.

He said: “You can see that the jokes stopped at the end of the year as we all became more mature and experienced.”

Couzens, whose messages were not read in court due to other ongoing investigations, is serving a whole life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of 33-year-old Ms Everard in March last year.

The trial continues.

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