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Jailed Man Explains Why He Posted Image Of Grenfell Fire Victim To Facebook

'I didn't do anything wrong, just a picture.'

19/09/2017 11:07

A man jailed for posting pictures of a dead body on Facebook in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire has revealed he was shocked to receive a three month sentence.  

Omega Mwaikambo, told BBC Newsnight he knew it was “morally wrong” to take pictures of the loosely covered corpse hours after the blaze struck the block of flats in Kensington in June.

But he told the programme he had been “traumatised” by what he had seen, describing the blaze near his home as being like 9/11 but “real in front of my eyes”.

PA Wire/PA Images
At least 80 people were killed in the Grenfell fire disaster in West London 

He said: “I took the picture, I didn’t do anything wrong, just a picture. I didn’t steal, I didn’t kill. I didn’t commit any crime that I know is … high risk.”

The 43-year-old, who left Wandsworth prison earlier this month, added: “I couldn’t believe it (the sentence) was that long. Not that I was expecting a short time but that length of period of time to be in prison really shocked me.”

At least 80 people were killed in the disaster in West London, currently the subject of a public inquiry led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

Mwaikambo, of Testerton Walk, close to the base of the Grenfell Tower, pleaded guilty to two offences contrary to section 127 of the Communications Act at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

News Night
Omega Mwaikambo told Newsnight he felt 'so bad' but maintained 'it's just a picture' 

He was sentenced to six weeks for each offence, to be served consecutively.

He told Newsnight he used his iPad to take pictures when he came across the body close to his home.

He said he accepted people would be angry at what he did at 5am on June 14, and he felt “so bad”.

But he added: “I was in and out of my senses but I was really struggling to compose myself.

“That body was not meant to be there in the first place, regardless of what … I could understand that there was something massive happening outside, but it should not be kept in that place, in a patch of dirty water. That really messed my head up.”

Known victims of the Grenfell fire 

  • Ligaya Moore, 78
    Metropolitan Police
    Moore's family remembered her a loving auntie who loved to dance and laugh, and who arrived in London 43 years ago. She had been widowed for several years when she lost her life in the Grenfell Fire. 

    Her best friend, Nenita Bunggay, said: "Ligaya was a jolly and energetic person, she was like my mother and was my best friend. We always spent our time together and she will be greatly missed."
  • Yaqub Hashim, 6
    Metropolitan Police
    A statement from Yaqub's family described him as a "energetic, sporty, funny and smart boy". 

    It added: "The energy you had, oh my! A minute at your presence wouldn’t pass without laughing; just following your movement was enough. You were in a rush all the time. Thinking about it now; it feels like you were trying to use all the energy you had and you didn’t want to waste a second of your unfairly short lifetime."
  • Mehdi El-Wahabi, 8
    Metropolitan Police
    Mehdi's family said: "Mehdi was a calm and friendly young boy who loved his family very much. He was loved by staff and pupils at his school who held a beautiful memorial and made a plaque in memory of him."

    Mehdi's cousin Senate Jones added: "You made me laugh and smile every day."
  • Raymond Bernard, 63
    Metropolitan Police
    A family statement said: "Gone but not forgotten, you are so dearly loved by us all and will sadly be missed by many. May you rest in eternal peace, with love always."
  • Biruk Haftom, 12
    Metropolitan Police
    Biruk and his mother Berkti both lost their lives in the blaze. Their family said: “We are deeply hurt and heartbroken our angels were taken from us so cruelly, so young.We will not rest until justice is served!”
  • Berkti Haftom, 29
    Metropolitan Police
    Berkti Haftom and her son Biruk, 12, (left)  both perished in the fire. A family member paid tribute to the pair's "contagious laughter and charisma." 
  • Denis Murphy, 56
    Metropolitan Police
    Mr Murphy's family said in a statement: "The pain, loss and sorrow we feel is indescribable and we have been left devastated with a gaping hole in our hearts that can never be filled. To us he was an inspiration and an amazing, selfless, caring person and we feel lucky and blessed that he was part of our family, and his warmth and love will stay with us forever."
  • Amna Mahmud Idris, 27
    Butsaya via Getty Images
  • Sakina Afrasehabi, 65
    PA Wire/PA Images
    A family statement said: "Sakina was a loving mother of five, who is much missed by all of us."She was completely selfless in all she did and always put other people first.”
  • Ernie Vital, 50
    Metropolitan Police
    A family statement said: "Ernie was a polite 50-year-old man and he worked in the catering industry. He was a creative individual who pursued a creative life. He was a proud, humble, mature and independent man. He was a loyal son and a law abiding citizen who maintained good relationships with all those he met in society."
  • Majorie Vital, 68
    Metropolitan Police
    A statement released on behalf of the family of Majorie Vital said: "Majorie was sixty-eight years old and she had worked in the textile industry for many years. She was a beautiful, joyful, independent, intelligent, kind hearted, sensitive individual who dedicated her life to her children. She carried herself with dignity and extended her warmth to family and friends.

    "Through her creativity and joy of life she was an inspiration to many of us. She has been prematurely and dramatically taken from this world and will be sadly missed by family and friends, both here in the UK and abroad."
  • Deborah Lamprell, 45
    Metropolitan Police
    A family statement said: "A wonderful, precious daughter, always smiling and helping others. Debbie will be missed by her mum and all who had the privilege to meet her."
  • Hashim Kedir, 44
    Metropolitan Police
    The bodies of Hashim Kedir, his wife Nura Jemal and their children Firdaws Hashim, 12 and Yahya Hashim, 13, have been identified. Yaqub, 6, remains missing. 
  • Firdaws Hashim, 12
    Metropolitan Police
    A family statement said: "Firdaws, our intelligent, wise, eloquent and beautiful niece and cousin.

    "You were the most intelligent, wise and eloquent girl I ever knew. You had the voice of an angel. You were so smart and mature for your age that everybody had a lot to say about the type of future you were going to have; the future that was stolen from you." 
  • Yahya Hashim, 13
    Metropolitan Police
    Yahya's father Hashim Kidir and siblings Firdaws Kidir, 11 and Yaqub Kidir, 6, remain missing. 

    Speaking on behalf of his family, his aunt, said: “Yahya: My most kind, handsome, pure hearted, sweet nephew.“You were the most kind, polite, loving, generous, thankful and pure hearted boy I ever knew."
  • Nura Jemal, 35
    Metropolitan Police
    A statement from her family said: “You were so passionate when you talked about heaven. Even your last words were about asking for forgiveness. You seemed to know that heaven was waiting for you and your family.

    "We pray for Allah to grant a place in heaven for you, your kids and husband whom you loved so much.“We love you and we will miss you every day of our lives.”
  • Yasin El Wahabi, 20
    Metropolitan Police
    In a statement, Yasin's family said: "Yasin was a loveable, bubbly and caring young man. He would lend his hand to anyone who asked for help. He was loved by so many and his contagious smile will always be etched on our minds and hearts".
  • Jessica Urbano Ramirez, 12
    Metropolitan Police
    A statement from her family said: “Our little girl was loving, kind hearted and caring. She brought joy to everyone who met her and her laugh was contagious. Jessica will leave a lasting legacy in the hearts of her family and friends and the many many people who didn't know her personally but have come to know her since that night of the 14th June. Her light will shine bright and will light our individual paths as we start to move forward into coming to terms with our loss and heartbreak."
  • Logan Gomes, stillborn.
    GoFundMe
    Baby Logan Gomes, who was stillborn in hospital on 14 June, has been recorded by police as a victim of the fire. Pictured are his parents Marcio and Andreia Gomes and their two daughters Megan 10 and Luana, 12. 
  • Ali Jafari, 82
    Metropolitan Police
    A statement released on behalf of the family of Ali Jafari said: “Mr Ali Jafari, aged 82, died following being caught up in the fire at Grenfell Tower. Mr Jafari is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren. Ali was loved and will be greatly missed by his family and the wider community.”
  • Hamid Kani, 61
    Metropolitan Police
    His family said: "Hamid will always be remembered for his wit, compassion and devotion to his family and friends.

    "No words can express our sorrow for his loss and the way he left us. He will always be part of our lives and his memory will live on."
  • Zainab Deen, 22
    Metropolitan Police
    Zainab died alongside her two-year-old son Jeremiah. 

    The family have expressed thanks and appreciation to all relatives and friends for their prayers, flowers and condolences. Funeral arrangements will be announced later as plans are being made to lay mother and son to rest.
  • Jeremiah Deen, 2
    Metropolitan Police
    Jeremiah died alongside his mother Zainab. His family said: "You spent a moment in our arms, but you will last a lifetime in our hearts." 
  • Marco Gottardi, 27
    Instagram/ glotrevi
    Pictured here with his girlfriend Gloria Trevisan, who also died in the blaze. The couple, who were both architects, lived on the 23rd floor the 24-storey block. 
  • Gloria Trevisan, 26
    Instagram/ glotrevi
    The body of the architect was discovered on the 23rd floor, where she lived with her boyfriend Marco Gottardi, Westminster Coroner's Court heard. The young woman is understood to have called her mother in Italy as the fire spread. 
  • Berkti Haftom, 29
    Met Police
    Her family said: "Berkti was a generous, caring, loving mother, partner, sister, aunty and friend and she will be missed by us all forever."
  • Sheila, 84
    Met Police
    Sheila's family, who have asked that her surname is not released to the public, said: "Sheila was a resident of Grenfell Tower for 34 years who absolutely adored her family and gave her many friends much love and inspiration.

    "A very active and well-respected member of the local community, Sheila was cycling around London, performing yoga daily and swimming regularly in the Kensington Leisure Centre until she was 80 years old.

    "With her exploration of the alternative, in her lifetime she amassed a wealth of knowledge, wrote poetry and philosophical and political thoughts, and created some highly original artwork - nearly all of which now sadly lost in the fire at Grenfell Tower. 

    "Sheila leaves two sons, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. As a family we are heartbroken as to this senseless tragedy that took her far too early, and will do all we can to honour her name."
  • Rabia Begum and Husna Begum, 22
    The bodies of mother and daughter were found in the remains of the Grenfell Tower. Male relatives from the same family Kamru Miah, 82, Hamid, 29 and Hanif, 26 all remain missing. 
  • Farah Hamden, 23, Leena Belkadi, 6 months
    The six-month-old baby girl was found in her mother’s arms in a stairwell between the 19th and 20th floors of the tower block, Westminster Coroner’s Court was told. Her father, Omar Belkadi, also died in the blaze.

    Omar and Farah's two other daughters were recovered from the 20th floor, where they lived and taken to St Mary’s Hospital. Malek, aged 8, later died. Tazmin, aged 6 remains in hospital.
  • Mary Mendy
    Met Police
    The 52-year-old has been confirmed as having lost her life along with her daughter Khadija Saye in the blaze at Grenfell. 

    Her sister Betty Jackson said in a statement on behalf of the family: "My beloved sister, words can never describe the pain of losing you. I can't believe you are gone. You were a wonderful sister, an incredible aunt, the best mother any child could have wished for. You were an amazing friend to all those who knew you.

    "Your heart was pure, your soul was one of a kind. You will be missed for a life time. You will remain forever in our hearts. you and your beautiful daughter Khadija Saye.

    "From your sister, brothers, nieces and nephews.”
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