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Man Jailed For Photographing Grenfell Tower Victim Admits He Doesn't Know What He Was Thinking

Man Jailed For Photographing Grenfell Tower Victim Admits He Doesn't Know What He Was Thinking

He served three months in prison for taking the photos and uploading them to social media.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

Omega Mwaikambo was heavily criticised after he uploaded photos and a video to social media of distressing and shocking scenes as Grenfell Tower was ablaze in June.

The 43-year-old was arrested when police found out he had opened a body bag and taken close-up photos of a deceased individual and posted them to Facebook.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of sending by a public communications network an offending, indecent or obscene matter, and was sentenced to three months behind bars.

Omega has revealed to BBC Newsnight what was going through his head when he was at the scene.

Credit: BBC/Newsnight

Mwaikambo says: "God knows what I was thinking in my head, but I was holding my iPad. The body was not wrapped tightly, it was loosely wrapped. Inside I was just saying to myself, 'Does anybody know this person?'.

"I don't even know what I'm doing but, it just happened as it is, there's no explanation. But with anger, traumatised, mesmerised as well."

He is then asked whether he thought it was morally wrong to tamper with a body. Omega says: "Morally, I know it's wrong. It's like I said it's not morally right for the body, for it's respect to be left unattended out there."

While the photos he uploaded to Facebook were almost universally criticised, his arrest and subsequent time behind bars caused reactions from both sides of the legal argument.

During his trial, Omega's defence attorney, Michelle Denney, told the court: "He found the deceased person and was shocked by the fact the body was there and felt a sense of shock that the body was there unattended."

She added that he took the photos and video to highlight how the victim was being treated.

However, District Judge Tanweer Ikram felt like a line had been crossed. Judge Ikram said: "The whole country, if not the whole world, has been shocked by what has taken place in the last few days in relation to the fire at Grenfell Tower.

"The dignity of the dead must always be respected. What you have done by uploading those photos shows absolutely no respect to this poor victim.

"To show his face as he lies there is beyond words."

As many as 80 residents of the 24-storey block of apartments died when it became engulfed in flames in June this year. It burned for about 60 hours before it was finally extinguished. The fire destroyed 151 homes inside the block and surrounding area.

Sources: Mirror, BBC Newsnight

Featured Image Credit: BBC/PA

Topics: Grenfell Tower, UK, London