A Met policewoman was today found guilty of gross misconduct after failing to take basic steps to protect a domestic violence victim who died after her husband set fire to her northwest home.
PC Sandeep Khunkhun was in charge of helping Eddy Grant’s niece Denise Keane-Barnett-Simmons, 36, who was killed after Damion Simmons, 45, set the Stonebridge house ablaze in April 2020.
Following a tribunal panel at a police misconduct hearing in west London earlier today, Khunkhun was dismissed from the force without notice.
PC Sandeep Khunkhun was in charge of helping Eddy Grant’s niece Denise Keane-Barnett-Simmons, 36 (pictured)
They found she had breached the force’s professional standards for duties and responsibilities but she was not found to have breached standards on honesty and integrity.
In October 2021, Simmons was jailed for 32 years after burning his partner to death in revenge when she threw him out of their home.
The handyman broke into the property he had shared with Ms Keane-Simmons to pour petrol over her head and set her alight.
He then leapt from a bathroom window as flames ripped through the terraced house.
Simmons admitted he was ‘jealous and controlling’, but insisted he wanted to die in front of his wife when he poured the petrol through her letter box and broke into the house when he could not set it alight.
The Old Bailey heard how he had set up a secret camera in her room to monitor her and posted naked pictures of her on Instagram just hours before the blaze.
The panel found Khunkhun failed to arrest Simmons or make arrangements for his arrest, interview Simmons, and take his electronic devices, witness statements or examine the lightbulb.
Damion Simmons (pictured) was the husband of Eddy Grant’s niece.He was jailed for 32 years after burning his partner to death in revenge when she threw him out of their home
She also did not act on a colleague’s statement taken from the victim, wrongly recommended that crime reports be closed and failed to safeguard the victim by considering how she could get a panic alarm or send SOS messages.
She was cleared of three other allegations within the charge: that she was dishonest towards her bosses, did not update crime reports and failed to act after he turned up at her home in March 2020.
Hywel Jenkins, representing the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said: ‘Conduct which is intentional, deliberate, targeted or planned is more serious than conduct with unintentional consequences.
‘The consequences were unintended but the potential for harm was clearly foreseeable.
‘There was a clear plan of action, and this officer did not follow it.
‘When it came to closing the investigation, she did not reveal to anyone that she had not followed it (the plan).
‘This was conduct which, we say, did not occur on the spur of the moment.
Forensic teams outside the property in Harlesden, north west London, following the blaze in 2020
‘It was a course of conduct which was sustained over a period of time which she effectively concealed from those supervising her.We do say that the level of culpability is high.
‘With regards to harm, the victim of course perished and that is catastrophic.
‘We do not allege that this was caused by this officer.
‘The risk was increased by her failure to conduct the investigation which she was charged to do.
‘Where behaviour could harm public confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service, slot tergacor dismissal must follow.
‘The events here, and the facts that the panel has found, have damaged the reputation of the Metropolitan Police.
‘The panel must always have in mind the public interest in maintaining respect for the police.
‘Personal mitigation must always be taken into account but has limited weight.’
Khunkhun’s lawyer Ailsa Williamson said her client should be allowed to keep her job.
She urged the panel to give her either a written warning or a final written warning because Khunkhun has ‘exceptional qualities’ that mean she could have a ‘valuable role’ in another part of the force.
She added: ‘Her line manager says she is a diligent officer who provides a valuable service to the public.
‘You have found some of the allegations proven and some not proven. This is not a case where the only outcome can be dismissal.
‘She was part of a team which was overwhelmed with work, and her ability to do the work was impacted by her dyspraxia.
‘She did well as an officer in roles where there are clear tasks to follow, which was not the case here.
‘The volume of work this unit was dealing with meant the level of supervision sergeants would like to have provided to those they were line managing was not possible.
Simmons was seen smashing a front window to break into the house before setting it ablaze.Pictured: The burnt house and the smashed window after the blaze
‘She did not know what was going to happen to the victim and this process has had a horrendous effect on her. She has found it incredibly stressful.
‘She has exceptional qualities and could have a valuable role in another part of the force.
‘She is a woman who shows kindness, consideration and empathy and she is proud of being a police officer.
‘She had a huge amount of pride in being a Metropolitan Police officer.
‘She always thinks with integrity and other officers have said they are happy to have her working in one of their teams.’
Panel chairman Cameron Brown QC said: ‘Having carefully considered all the facts presented by both parties, the outcome in this particular case is dismissal without notice.’
A written ruling will be published later.
Convicting Simmons last October, Judge Philip Katz said: ‘Denise Keane, still grieving the death of her own mother, was burnt to death in her own home.
‘Denise had worked for over ten years as a teaching assistant, working with young children and with a special focus on the arts.
Ms Keane-Simmons was the niece of Electric Avenue singer Eddy Grant (pictured in Scotland in 2008)
‘On a number of occasions during the early months of 2020 the police had been called to help her and Denise had finally been to see a lawyer to end this short but disastrous marriage.
‘Perhaps the most poignant evidence in the trial is the footage from the body worn camera of one of the police officers who were with Denise just over an hour before she was murdered.
‘She looked ground down, and defeated by the persistent, spiteful and humiliating conduct of the man who at that very time was on his way across London intending to kill her in the most horrible way imaginable.
‘You, Damien Simmons, were that man.’
Simmons, of no fixed address, denied murder, voyeurism and arson with intent to endanger life.He admitted manslaughter and disclosing private sexual photographs of the teaching assistant with intent to cause distress.
The jury cleared him of voyeurism and did not find that the camera he admitted fitting in the bedroom was for sexual purposes.But he was convicted of murder and arson with intent to endanger life.
Wearing a mask, Simmons sat with his head hung in shame as the victim impact statement from Helen Keane, the aunt of the victim was read to the court.
Four female members of the victim’s family sat at the back of court dabbing at their eyes with tissues.
Ms Keane said her niece was ‘a happy, free spirited charismatic individual who led with her heart.’ She added: ‘Words cannot express how devastated we are.’