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Met Police officer accused of sitting on evidence relating to suspect who carried out UK's first acid attack killing

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A police officer is being probed after he was accused of sitting on CCTV evidence that allowed a suspect to remain at large – during which time he went on to commit the UK’s first acid attack killing.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it had begun looking into the conduct of a Metropolitan Police detective constable who allegedly failed to circulate CCTV images of an acid attack in north London in March 2017 in which a woman suffered “significant hand and leg injuries”.

The police watchdog said it was alleged the images were not circulated until November 2018 – and three days later the suspect was identified as Xeneral Webster.

By that time Webster, 19, had started a 17-year jail term after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of care worker Joanne Rand when she was hit with high-strength sulphuric acid in June 2017.

The watchdog said the officer is being investigated for gross misconduct for alleged breaches of professional standards relating to his duties and responsibilities, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct – the IOPC is not investigating allegations of a criminal nature.

The investigation is looking at the officer’s handling of the case and whether it was in line with the Met’s policies and procedures.

Ms Rand’s family believe the 47-year-old carer might still be alive had Webster been dealt with at the time.

In a statement, the family told the Press Association: “We are deeply upset and disappointed.

“This was hard news to hear as we are all still struggling to cope with the loss of Jo.

“Had this acid attack in March 2017 been investigated properly at the time, Webster the alleged perpetrator would have been dealt with and may not have been free to carry out the horrific attack in June 2017 on Jo and she may still be with us.”

They added: “We feel very concerned for the lady who was the victim of this (original) attack.

“We know some of what she may be going through as we saw all of the pain and suffering that Jo went through.

“We have nothing but praise for Thames Valley Police, they worked so hard and tirelessly for us and Jo. We are grateful for all the support they gave our family.

“We feel let down by the Metropolitan Police.”

The watchdog said the officer is being investigated for gross misconduct for alleged breaches of professional standards relating to his duties and responsibilities, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct – the IOPC is not investigating allegations of a criminal nature.

The investigation is looking at the officer’s handling of the case and whether it was in line with the Met’s policies and procedures.

IOPC regional director Jonathan Green said: “This investigation raises the very serious question about the way in which a Metropolitan Police Service officer may have handled a crucial piece of evidence which may have identified the suspect of an acid attack.

“Our investigation will be rigorous in challenging how this evidence relating to the circulation of CCTV images was handled and seek to uncover whether other victims of crime may have been impacted upon as a result of any shortfalls.”

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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