A Metropolitan Police Officer who joked about raping a colleague in a group WhatsApp with Sarah Everard‘ killer has told a court it has been ‘blown out of proportion’.
Joel Borders also claimed a message he sent to a group of other police officers in which he said he ‘felt like a spot on a domino’ when in Feltham was actually a ‘positive celebration’ of the area’s ethnic diversity.
The 45-year-old also admitted to making jokes about his dementia-hit mother to cheer up his father when he took to the stand at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.
Defending himself against accusations he sent ‘grossly offensive’ messages in a group chat which had killer cop Wayne Couzens as a member, Borders claimed he was ‘exemplary’ at his job and described the court case as ‘absolutely ridiculous’.
The court heard that Borders, along with two co-defendants, had sent offensive messages in a group chat which had killer cop Wayne Couzens as a member.
They were found on a group chat called ‘Bottle and Stoppers’, which contained seven officers who had transferred to the Met from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC).
Joel Borders (left), pictured here arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, said he was ‘exemplary’ at his job
PC William Neville, pictured here arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, was also part of the WhatsApp group
PC Jonathon Cobban (centre), pictured here arriving at court today, was one of seven people in the WhatsApp group
They came to light after investigators seized the phone of Couzens while they were investigating the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, though the court has not made direct reference to this due to other ongoing hearings.
Among the messages found were ‘jokes about raping a 15-year-old girl and sexually assaulting domestic violence victims’, as well as comments about going on ‘pussy patrol’ and describing part of west London as a ‘f****** Somali s*** hole’, the court heard.
Borders has denied charges relating to improper use of a public electronic communications network between April 5 and August 9 2019, as have co-accused serving Met constables Jonathon Cobban, 35, and William Neville, 34.
Borders had worked for the CNC from March 30, 2014, and transferred to the Met on February 11, 2019.
The group chats existence was revealed when police searched the phone of Wayne Couzens (pictured) during their investigation into the rape and murder of Sarah Everard
Joel Borders, pictured here outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday, said the messages were ‘dark humour’
He left the force on December 9, 2020, for unrelated reasons and before he was told about Couzens or that he was being investigated for misconduct in August 2021.
In messages previously read to the court, Borders, from Preston, Lancashire, said: ‘I can’t wait to get on the guns so I can shoot some c*** in the face’, and suggested tasering people with Down’s Syndrome.
Speaking about a female colleague, he also said she would ‘lead me on then get me locked up when I rape and beat her! Sneaky b****’.
During cross-examination by his lawyer Nicholas Yeo on Friday, Borders told the court that he was ‘well thought-of on the job’ and his ‘joke’ messages, had been ‘blown out of proportion’.
‘I was saying she’s the sort of person who would lead you on, sleep with you, then make a false allegation against you,’ he said.
‘So really the rape and beat should have been in quotations, but it’s text isn’t it – it’s never grammatically correct.
‘This has totally been blown out of proportion.’
‘I was an exemplary officer,’ he added.
‘I always turned up to work early, I always dressed smart, made sure my boots were clean.
‘My image was perfect and I behaved perfectly with people.
‘I know that’s me saying this, but I was well thought-of on the job. People actively wanted to be partnered with me because I was good at the job.
‘There’s a lot of officers who are not good at their job and it makes it difficult to be partnered up with them on a case.’
Borders added: ‘I admit that I was naive when I first joined the Met. I had a different sense of humour then.
‘But meeting people on the job, being involved in delicate matters, it changed what I find funny.
‘I still have a dark sense of humour, I still laugh at things that maybe I shouldn’t laugh at.’
He said his jokes were not intended to offend the people who they were about, and gave the example of a joke he made about his mother, who has dementia, after she suffered a fall and broke her hip a few months ago.
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of (left to right) serving Metropolitan police officers Pc William Neville, and Jonathon Cobban, along with former police officer Joel Borders appearing in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in March
Borders said that to cheer his 75-year-old father up who was ‘exhausted’ but did not want to miss a hospital visit, he said: ‘Don’t go, and just tell her you went – she won’t remember.’
He said: ‘You might say that’s offensive to people with dementia, but it made my dad laugh, and all of a sudden his mood changed – his whole attitude changed.’
When asked about a message in which he said ‘I bet [DV victims] all [have] one thing in common – women that don’t listen’, he accepted that this message could be offensive, ‘depending on who reads it’.
But he added: ‘Just because I’m a victim of something doesn’t mean I let that thing beat me or upset me – I laugh about it.
The messages in the group chat were found by detectives investigating the murder of Sarah Everard (pictured), after she was killed by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens
‘So someone who’s a victim of DV may be offended by it, they may not be offended by it.’
When asked about a message he said he felt like ‘a spot on a domino’ in Feltham and Hounslow being ‘twinned with Baghdad’, he said it was in fact a ‘positive celebration’ of the racial and ethnic diversity of these towns rather than a condemnation.
Clearly agitated, Borders said: ‘I regret being in the group because of the harm this has caused to the general public and the police service.
‘This has got out of hand. This is absolutely ridiculous.’
Gesturing toward the dock, he continued: ‘You’ve got officers in there [who are] probably going to lose their jobs over this just because you take exception to certain jokes.’
A selection of messages made by the three Metropolitan Police Officers on the WhatsApp group chat
Neville, of Weybridge, Surrey, and Cobban, from Didcot, Oxfordshire, watched from the dock and are due to give evidence later on Friday.
On Thursday, Neville was accused of ‘acting out a rape fantasy’ by prosecutor Edward Brown QC after he described the time he ‘pinned a 15-year-old girl going mental on the floor’ as deploying a ‘struggle snuggle’.
Meanwhile, Cobban described a hospital patient he was dealing with as an ‘attention seeking, self-harming f*g’, and Hounslow, a diverse area of London, as a ‘Somali s******’.
Responding to jokes about police performing sex acts on domestic violence victims, Cobban also wrote: ‘That’s alright, DV victims love it… that’s why they are repeat victims more often than not.’
Speaking yesterday, Mr Brown said: ‘The defendants were each a serving Police Officer at time and on occasion they were on duty at the time the messages were sent.
‘This must be seen in the context of and in combination with a need to uphold public confidence in the police – in itself a pressing need, or at the very least, the context within which to consider the comments.
One of the defendants PC William Neville (pictured), 33, lives in Surrey in a modern block of flats with his wife
‘Right thinking members of the public would be grossly offended; not just by the comments themselves but to know that it was serving police officers who discussed, amongst other serving police officers, their colleagues and the citizens they are supposed to serve in the terms used in these messages, often in an enthusiastic and encouraging manner with no dissent.’
The Crown Prosecution Service had initially granted the three men anonymity, citing ‘operational reasons’.
But following complaints from open justice campaigners, the CPS released the names into the public domain.
Cobban, of Didcot, Oxfordshire, and Borders, of Preston, Lancashire, deny five counts each of sending by public communication network an offensive matter.
Neville, of Weybridge, Surrey, denies two identical charges.
PC Cobban (pictured), 35, shares a modern detached house in Oxfordshire with his wife. He alleged described Hounslow as a ‘f****** Somalian s*** hole’
In his police interviews, Cobban has said he regretted sending the messages, describing them as ‘stupid’.
Referring to his comments about the Hounslow community being a ‘Dulux chart’ he said: ‘This comment was in relation to the vibrancy of the area. It was a shock to see… I was new to the area.’
Borders described his comments as ‘dark humour which I appreciate will offend some people’.
He said: ‘I was professional on the job and I don’t think rape is a joke and I don’t think violence against women is a joke.’
He added that he had sent the messages were sent when he had been a training officer and had no experience in domestic abuse cases.
‘You can see that the jokes stopped at the end of the year as we all became more mature and experienced,’ he said.
The trial continues.