Bijan Ebrahimi: Police 'failed' murdered man for years

A disabled man had repeatedly reported death threats and racial abuse to police for seven years before being brutally murdered, a report has found.

Bijan Ebrahimi was beaten to death and set alight on a Bristol estate amid false claims he was a paedophile.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said police “failed to record” more than half the 73 alleged crimes he reported.

Avon and Somerset’s police chief said “we failed him in his hour of need”.

Iranian-born Mr Ebrahimi was killed by his neighbour Lee James in Brislington, in July 2013.

Evidence gathered by the IPCC uncovered “poor responses” by police for at least seven years before the murder and repeated failures to protect him or record crimes against him.

In 73 of the calls Mr Ebrahimi made between 2007 and 2013, he reported incidents of racial abuse, criminal damage and threats to kill.

But police failed to record crimes on at least 40 occasions, the watchdog said.

‘Attention seeker’

The report also found there was “consistent systematic failure” by call handlers, who breached standards on recording crimes, identifying hate offences and repeat victims.

IPCC commissioner Jan Williams said: “Bijan Ebrahimi self-identified as a victim of race hate crime, but was never recognised as a repeat victim of abuse who needed help.

“Instead, his complaints about abusive neighbours were disbelieved and he was considered to be a liar, a nuisance and an attention seeker.

Reports Mr Ebrahimi made to police

2007 – 9 reports made, the number recorded as a crime is unknown

2008 – 21 reports, 7 recorded as a crime

2009 – 18 reports, 8 recorded as a crime

2010 – 11 reports, 3 recorded as a crime

2011 – 5 reports, 4 recorded as a crime

2012 – 7 reports, 3 recorded as a crime

2013 – 2 reports, 0 recorded as a crime

Ms Williams said police accepted the neighbours’ versions of events at face value and viewed Mr Ebrahimi as the culprit rather than the victim.

She described Mr Ebrahimi’s faith in the force despite their repeated rejection of his version of events, as a “sad, poignant fact”.

The commissioner added: “We found evidence that Bijan Ebrahimi had been treated consistently differently from his neighbours, to his detriment and without reasonable explanation.

“Some of the evidence has the hallmarks of what could be construed as racial bias, conscious or unconscious.”

PC Kevin Duffy and PCSO Andrew Passmore were jailed last year for misconduct over their dealings with Mr Ebrahimi. They and two other police officers were also dismissed from the force.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “We failed [Mr Ebrahimi] in his hour of need and I am unreservedly sorry for the pain his family have suffered in the last four years.

“Some of these failings were systematic but it’s important to acknowledge that the actions of a very small number of individuals had a catastrophic effect.”

Timeline of Ebrahimi case

  • 16 July 2013 – Bijan Ebrahimi is found “in flames” at a property in Brislington. The case is referred to the IPCC
  • 19 September 2013 – The IPCC serves notices of gross misconduct against six police officers
  • 28 November 2013 – Lee James is jailed for life for Mr Ebrahimi’s murder. Stephen Norley is sentenced to four years for assisting him
  • 21 December 2015 – Kevin Duffy and Andrew Passmore are convicted of misconduct in public office
  • 22 January 2015 – The pair are dismissed from the force
  • 9 February 2016 – Duffy is jailed for 10 months and Passmore for four
  • 3 May 2016 – PCs Helen Harris and Leanne Winter are dismissed from the force

Avon and Somerset Police has since implemented changes across its systems relating to culture, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “There is nothing that can do justice to the collective failure to protect Mr Ebrahimi and to treat him as a victim of hate crime.

“Over the past four years I am satisfied that the constabulary has recognised the mistakes that were made and put in place wide-reaching changes which are already embedded today.”

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