“I refuse to give him that power”: mother of murdered sisters responds to verdict

Mina Smallman has shared a powerful response to the news that Danyal Hussein has been convicted for the murder of her two daughters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

Please be aware that this article contains details that some might find upsetting.

Last June, Nicole Smallman, a 27-year-old photographer, and her sister, Bibaa Henry, a social worker, went missing after celebrating Henry’s 46th birthday in Fryent Country Park, Wembley. Their bodies were discovered in the park the following day. They had been stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack. 

On Tuesday (6 July), 19-year-old Danyal Hussein was found guilty of the sisters’ murders, which he claimed were part of a deal he made with a so-called “demon”. He had vowed to kill six women every six months, which he believed would secure him a lottery win. As reported by the Independent, it also transpired that Hussein was referred to the government’s anti-radicalisation Prevent programme by his school at the age of 15. 

The sisters’ mother, Mina Smallman – the first Black woman to become an archdeacon in the Church of England – was present during the trial, hearing harrowing evidence for weeks. She has since spoken about what that was like on Wednesday’s Today programme on Radio 4. 

“It’s the worst thing that could happen to you. You have the result, but you still don’t have your daughters,” Smallman said. “There’s no peace, really. So, do I feel a sense of relief or joy? No I don’t. I feel justice has been done but there’s still work to be done.”

“No one wants to hear that their daughters’ last moments were terrifying,” she continued, “And I don’t know that I’ll ever get that out of my head. 

Smallman said that despite being “too grief-stricken” to pray at times, she still has faith and she has forgiven Hussein: “I’ve surprised myself, actually. When we hold hatred for someone, it’s not only them who are held captive, it’s you. Because your thoughts become consumed by revenge. I refuse to give him that power. He is a non-entity to me.”

She added: “The thing that we have done – because remember the pact said he was going to kill another four women. Our precious daughters died, but four other families, their children have not been taken. And that’s the gift: he has no power in our lives.”

Smallman also detailed Hussein’s “disgusting” behaviour in court, which included trying to get a reaction from her by clicking his fingers and clapping. 

The “work” that Smallman referred to is the two further issues surrounding the murders: the police’s slow response to the disappearances, and the two police officers (who face trial next week) who were arrested for allegedly taking selfies with the bodies of the murdered sisters.

She said she would consider taking legal action against the Metropolitan police if she was dissatisfied with the outcome of an ongoing Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation: “I don’t have an agenda to topple everything; what I want to do is make things better so that the things that happen to us never happen to anyone else.”

Asked what her daughters would have thought about what she and her husband had gone through this year, and their efforts to effect change, Smallman said: “I imagine them, looking down and saying, ‘Go for it mum. Go for it. You’ve got this, go for it.’”

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