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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Richard Vernalls

Police worker accused of sharing gory picture of dead RAF cadet, 18, on WhatsApp

An ex-British Transport Police control room worker appeared in court accused of sharing a picture of a dead 18-year-old RAF cadet hit by a train.

Joshua Tilt, 31, appeared for a brief hearing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Friday after being charged with misconduct in a public office.

Tilt is accused of accessing police photographs showing Lewis Williams’ body and sharing one with 14 others.

Lewis, described by his family as “popular, funny and kind”, was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder before his death.

Lewis was popular, funny and kind
— Paul Williams

His parents were in court.

Tilt, who appeared on bail before District Judge David Wain wearing a suit and coat, left the court with two males via a side door before being driven away.

He is accused of “wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification” taking a photo on his “personal mobile phone of a deceased member of the public”.

He then allegedly shared the image with others “who had no legitimate purpose for viewing or possessing” it.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, Lewis’s father Paul Williams said: “Lewis was popular, funny and kind.

“He had a really big heart and would always put other people’s problems ahead of his own.

“He touched so many people’s lives.

“He was also incredibly smart and his knowledge of history and the world was second to none.

“His teachers would always say how much potential he had.”

Mr Williams said his son, who aspired to join the RAF, was “passionate” about the air cadets, having joined aged 12, gone on to fly a plane and risen to the rank of flight sergeant.

He added: “He was very empathetic and great at reading other people’s feelings.

“His school and college friends and those from his squadron did tributes for him after his death.”

Lewis died at Slough train station in Berkshire on June 21.

On July 2, his family was told by a British Transport Police (BTP) chief superintendent that an investigation was under way into a member of the force’s staff.

This was the first time we were given the horrific detail about the state of Lewis’s body
— Mr Williams

Mr Williams, of Slough, said he was told someone had allegedly “gained access to the police aftermath scene photos, chosen a photo of his (Lewis’s) dismembered body and then shared the image in a WhatsApp chat group with 14 others”.

“I immediately felt sick,” Mr Williams said.

“This was the first time we were given the horrific detail about the state of Lewis’s body.”

He said the accusation was “incomprehensible” to the family, which was already struggling with grief.

The BTP said in a statement a decision to charge followed a probe by their professional standards department.

“The charges are in connection to an incident involving the sharing of an image from the force’s control room,” they said.

“As is routine, the force referred itself to the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) who deemed the matter suitable for local investigation.”

Tilt, of Lye Close Lane, Birmingham, was bailed to appear for a plea hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on November 4.

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