The government Minister responsible for the courts has called for a major overhaul of how the police handles evidence after Met Police officers lost crucial material related to the case of dead schoolgirl Mia Janin.
The Met has admitted to losing a SIM card from Mia’s phone, in addition to a second mobile handset. A pre-inquest review was told that the coroner had been due to consider evidence from Mia’s phone.
The 14-year-old JFS pupil was found dead at her Harrow home in March 2021 and reportedly took her own life amid evidence she was being bullied at school.
Finchley and Golders Green Conservative MP Mike Freer (Photo: Handout)
Now Ministry of Justice Under Secretary of State Mike Freer, who has responsibility for the courts and the legal aid system, has called for key reforms to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
He told the JC: “The Metropolitan Police needs a major overhaul of how it handles and stores evidence.
“The police do an incredibly difficult job, often in harrowing circumstances, but it is disappointing nonetheless that evidence invaluable to the family and case should have been lost.”
Mia’s father Mariano said he is “devastated” after it was revealed the police had lost the key material as he hoped it would have shed further light on the circumstances of her death.
He told the BBC: “This phone was part of the evidence about what happened to my daughter. I was hoping that answers would have come out and the police told me that this was going to be key.”
Commenting on the police handling of the case, he added: “They don’t care about me or the family. How could they have done this? I trusted them and co-operated with them.”
Mia, a Year 10 pupil, reportedly sent a voice message to a friend before the first day of term, saying she was “mentally preparing herself to get bullied”. A pre-inquest hearing heard that she was bullied by pupils at her school and that the allegations were raised with staff.
In a statement, the Met apologised for the “distress” caused. “As part of the investigation into Mia’s death, police examined a number of items belonging to her. This included a sim card from her main phone and a second mobile handset.
“Both the sim card and the handset were examined by specialists and then placed into the property store at Barnet Police station with the intention of providing them back to the family at a later date. All of our investigations relating to these two items had been completed at this point.
“Unfortunately we have been unable to locate these items within the store. We believe this may be due to the re-location of the investigating team to another station, during which time property was also transferred.
“We are extremely sorry that these items have not yet been located and have apologised directly to Mia’s family for the added distress this has caused.
“Extensive searches, including reviews of all relevant paperwork, have been carried out but have so far been unsuccessful. We are continuing our efforts to search for these items.”
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