A senior British police officer has acknowledged “collective failure” by authorities in responding to the concerns of a disabled Iranian man, which eventually led to his murder.
“It is clear that there was a collective failure on the part of statutory agencies and others to protect Mr. [Bijan] Ebrahimi and we cannot wait for all the various external investigative processes to run their course before we start learning lessons for the future,” Chief Constable Nick Gargan said.
Ebrahimi, murdered in July by his neighbor Lee James, had contacted the police a number of times complaining that he was a victim of anti-social behavior. However, police officers had ignored the calls.
“We need to have some frank and candid local discussions with our partners and our communities about what we collectively can do to stop this happening again,” Gargan said.
Ebrahimi had taken photographs of youths vandalizing his hanging baskets and intended to hand them to police as evidence.
“Some of them (neighbors) alleged he was filming their children. This was derived by some to accusations of pedophilia. There is in fact no evidence whatsoever to support this claim,” Prosecutor Andrew Langdon said.
The court heard that it was unclear how the attack on Mr. Ebrahimi started, but witnesses saw James repeatedly stamp on his head with his right foot, telling him “have some of that.”
At 1.35am the following day, CCTV captured a blaze starting, which burnt for 10 minutes until it was distinguished by an attending paramedic.
A post-mortem examination report found Mr. Ebrahimi suffered “multiple heavy blows to the face and head” and had died before he was set alight.
On Thursday, Bristol Crown Court sentenced the killer, Lee James, to life with a minimum term of 18 years’ imprisonment. His friend, Stephen Norley, was also given a four-year prison term for torching Ebrahimi’s body.
“You thought you were entitled to take the law into your own hands. What you did had nothing to do with the law or justice,” the court told James.
Disturbing footage taken by 44-year-old Ebrahimi before his murder shows James threatening him.
Since the murder, three police officers have been suspended and face gross misconduct charges.