AFTER being cooped up for months in lockdown, Bibaa Henry couldn’t wait to celebrate her birthday in the sunshine with her sister Nicole Smallman.
They were so excited they practically skipped to the park.
With some restrictions still in place, only their closest friends had been invited to their socially distanced picnic at Fryent Country Park, Wembley, North-West London, nel mese di giugno 2020.
And after watching the sunset together, one by one their guests headed home, leaving just Bibaa, 46, and Nicole, 27, remaining.
They listened to music and took selfies as they danced with fairy lights – before seemingly vanishing.
When the sisters failed to return home, they were reported missing but police didn’t send anyone to the park and a search by family and friends led to the discovery of their bodies next to each other in a tree-line.
Bibaa and Nicole had been stabbed multiple times.
Danyal Hussein, 19, was later found guilty of their murder and jailed for at least 35 anni.
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Almost two years on from their brutal murder, their mum Mina Smallman bravely tells her story in a new BBC Documentary, Two Daughters, airing this Sunday.
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Parlando al Sole, Mina, 65, dice: “I didn’t want my daughters to be remembered by the way they died.
“I wanted them to be remembered for who they were and what they meant to their loved ones.”
Bibaa was a dedicated senior social worker specialising in child protection, while Nicole, known as Nikki, was a talented freelance photographer, singer and artist.
Police shared photos of dead bodies
As Mina tried to make sense of their tragic loss, they were then rocked when news emerged a few weeks later that two Metropolitan Police officers took photos of their bodies and shared them online.
Former PCs Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Jamie Lewis, 33, branded the murdered sisters “two dead birds” after taking sick snaps of their bodies and sharing them with colleagues and members of the public.
The pair had been assigned to guard the crime scene but breached the cordon to get closer to the women’s bodies.
Mina, a retired teacher and former Anglican priest, dice: “Any reserves we had were then cut off.”
Britain was just coming out of the first Covid lockdown when the picnic took place on the evening of Friday, giugno 5, 2020. The park was chosen as it was close to where Bibaa lived in Brent, North-West London.
Bibaa was Mina’s daughter from her first marriage to Herman Henry, a former boxer. They also have another daughter, Monique, 47, who now lives in Holland.
Mina went on to have Nikki with second husband, Chris Smallman, 64. La coppia, who live in Ramsgate, Kent, have been married for 30 anni.
Retired English teacher Chris was close to all three of the sisters. Speaking in the documentary, Egli ha detto: “Bibaa was always the party animal out of the three.
“She was very bubbly. She had a particularly close relationship with Nicole, who was the baby.”
That fateful evening, Bibaa and Nikki’s friends left around midnight but the sisters stayed on, enjoying each other’s company.
Told boyfriend she was ‘dancing in a field’
Nikki’s boyfriend Adam Stone wasn’t able to make the party but she sent him messages throughout the evening.
Her last message to him was sent at 1.30am telling him she was “dancing in a field” and “going home soon”.
Mina, who was the Church of England’s first female archdeacon from a black and minority ethnic background, says in the documentary: “You could just see they were just having a wonderful time.
“The following morning I left a message with the girls saying I hope you had a lovely time, tell me all about it later.”
Adam had also been trying to contact Nikki when she didn’t message him to say she had got to her home, in Harrow, North-West London, safely.
Mina says it was “not normal behaviour” and so she contacted the police that evening.
She recalls: “I explained the situation but there seemed to be no sense of urgency.”
‘Slow to act because of race’
She believes police were slow to respond to the disappearance of her daughters because they were black.
No officers were sent to the park and so family and friends put together their own search party.
Items, including a knife – later identified as the murder weapon – were discovered before Adam found the bodies of his girlfriend and her sister lying intertwined behind a line of trees.
Mina is still in regular contact with Adam whom she calls “my son”.
Though he supported the making of the documentary, he is still deeply traumatised by what he saw that day and couldn’t bring himself to talk about Nikki on camera.
Mina says: “Before I heard about the selfies the police officers took, I’d never imagined what my girls looked like and then I would get these awful flashes.
“That’s my imagination but he saw it in reality.
“How do you unsee what you have seen?
“If the police had just done their jobs, he would never have had to see what he saw.”
The documentary, fronted by Stacey Dooley, follows the trial of the sisters’ killer Hussein, who was arrested after police were able to link DNA found at the scene.
Searches of his bedroom at his mum’s south-east London home uncovered two blood pacts and handwritten demon symbols.
Stabbed eight times
For the couple, the hardest part of sitting through Hussein’s trial last July was having to hear the horrifying details of their daughters’ last moments.
Bibaa was stabbed eight times but had no defence wounds, suggesting she had been taken by surprise and was quickly overpowered.
Hussein then attacked Nikki, stabbing her 28 volte. She also had additional cuts, suggesting she had bravely tried to fight him off.
Speaking in the documentary, Chris says: “What she must have gone through watching Bibaa getting savagely attacked, that’s where we all got really upset.”
Mina adds: “I’m hoping I won’t always remember that.”
Incredibilmente, Mina has been able to forgive Hussein for his heinous crime. She says her faith – and husband Chris – have been a constant source of strength.
She says in the documentary: “Finding my faith has saved me on numerous occasions and at times like this you need it.
“I don’t know how people go through with no sense of there being a higher purpose in this life. I know that’s challenging for a lot of people. Often when people have circumstances like ours they think how can a God allow this?
“There are some priests who have lost their children and they have walked away from their faith. I don’t think it’s a testament of how strong your faith is. It’s about being able to hear beyond the evil of this world.
“You have to dig deep when the bad times come.”
And that is exactly what they had to do when the family had to endure a second trial, last November, when former police officers Jaffer and Lewis who both pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office before being jailed for two years and nine months.
The couple were back in court again recently for Jaffer and Lewis’ appeal but their bid to lower their sentences was dismissed.
Mina believes the officers are only sorry that they got caught and that she has always felt that the story of the selfies got far more attention from the media than her daughters’ murders.
She also feels that there were racist elements to the police’s failings. An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found there was no suggestion of racial bias in how the missing person reports were handled.
tuttavia, the probe did find the force’s response was “below the standard that it should have been”. The investigation found several failings into the handling of Bibaa and Nikki’s disappearance, with information being recorded “inaccurately” and call handlers “dismissive”.
Following the IOPC report, the Metropolitan Police has since apologised to the family.
Mina says it is “too late for apologies”. The further heartache caused by the failings and waiting for the report as well as the trials of the former Met officers has given them little time to grieve.
Lei dice: “We are trying to find our new normal.”
In the documentary she tells how she often has dark periods she describes as “meltdowns”.
Mina says: “It’s like a dam. It’s like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ Something snaps and when it snaps, to be honest with you, I actually want to join my girls. I don’t want to be here.
“It’s only because the girls have gone, and I know the pain it has caused to lose someone you love, I couldn’t do it to Chris – and Monique.”
A new dawn
But there have been some moments of light. Last November, Mina became a great grandmother when Bibaa’s daughter gave birth to a baby boy.
Mina, who has chosen not to release their names in order to protect them, dice: “Bibaa was excited to become a Grandma.
“He is gorgeous. He has got the most kissable lips ever.”
Mina suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia but despite her sometimes poor physical health, she has dedicated herself as much as she can to fight to end violence against women.
Il prossimo mese, a giugno 7, she will attend a rally organised by the political group the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) from the park where Bibaa and Nikki were murdered to the Met Headquarter’s doors of New Scotland Yard to honour the sisters and other female victims.
Though nothing will bring her daughters back, she wants to ensure no other mum has to endure the heartbreak she has.
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Mina says: “I will always speak out. People needed to see what effect this kind of thing has on a family.”
Two Daughters is on BBC2 on Sunday May 29th at 9pm