26 March 2024

Police watchdog finds supervision ‘issues’ concerning officer in shooting case

26 March 2024

A probationary officer should have been better supervised during the hours before a woman was shot dead outside a police station in 2003, a watchdog has said.

Sabina Rizvi, 25, was killed in the early hours of March 20 2003 as she drove away from Bexleyheath police station in south east London.

In 2004, Paul Asbury, then aged 22, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years after being convicted of her murder and the attempted murder of her boyfriend, Mark Williams, who was a passenger in the same car.

Hours before the shooting, Mr Williams had been arrested by Metropolitan Police officers on suspicion of vehicle theft.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which carried out re-investigation into contact police officers had with Ms Rizvi shortly before she was murdered, found that Mr Williams was able to make a call and it is believed a message may have been passed to Asbury who, along with his associates, were already watching the police station.

An experienced custody sergeant should have provided better supervision to a probationary police constable, who was monitoring Mr Williams while he was detained, according to the IOPC.

Commenting after an inquest jury concluded that Ms Rizvi had been unlawfully killed, IOPC director Steve Noonan said: “We found issues around the supervision of an inexperienced officer which resulted in Mr Williams making a call while detained resulting, it is believed, in a message being passed on to Paul Asbury.

“However, the evidence did not indicate any potential misconduct by officers.

“We hope the conclusion of inquest proceedings has helped to provide some closure for Sabina’s family.”

Ms Rizvi’s family believe the police knew there was a risk to her and could have taken action to prevent it.

The coroner told jurors there was no evidence the police were at fault.

On Tuesday after the inquest held at the Old Bailey Ms Rizvi’s mother Iffat said the family were  “deeply disappointed” that the jury were not able to comment on what happened to Sabina.

She said: “We feel they have been gagged and this continues to reflect the systemic injustice we have faced since Sabina’s murder.”

She also said: “We are grateful to the jury for the time they have taken to listen to all of the evidence surrounding Sabina’s death and the questions they asked throughout.

“Throughout this process a lot has come to light about what was happening in that police station on that night.”

Ms Rizvi was killed by a bullet that went through her neck.

Mr Williams was shot twice in the head, surviving but with significant brain injuries affecting his memory.

Among the issues examined during the IOPC’s re-investigation was whether any Met staff deliberately or inadvertently gave information to Asbury or his associates which led to the shooting and if there had been any intelligence to suggest that the couples’ lives were at risk before March 19 2003.

The actions and decisions made by the investigating officer while the couple were at the police station and potential threats of immediate harm to them upon release from custody were also looked at.

The IOPC launched its re-investigation after a decision that a full inquest should be held.

The inquest, which was originally opened and adjourned in 2003, was reopened in February 2019 by the senior coroner for south London.

It was then delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOPC’s final report has been shared with the coroner and Ms Rizvi’s family.

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