The other guests had gone home. It was after midnight, but sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman continued celebrating Bibaa’s birthday in the dark of a north-west London park.
Midsummer was approaching and, during that warm week last summer, the first Covid lockdown had begun to ease.
The sisters – daughters of the Venerable Mina Smallman, Britain’s first black female Anglican archdeacon – had lit fairy lights and were dancing to music together, reluctant to go home.
Few who have lived through the pandemic would blame them. Using a remote control camera, they shot 150 photographs capturing their euphoria. Then the unthinkable happened.
In what police have described as the last ‘haunting’ image, taken by the camera at 1.13am on Saturday June 6, both women can be seen looking to their left ‘as if distracted’.
Investigating officers believe this is the moment they became aware of the approach of Danyal Hussein, who was then 18.
For Bibaa and Nicole it had been a night of joy, celebration, freedom and sisterhood.
Hussein, 19, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of the murders of Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27. Pictured: Danyal Hussein being arrested
Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman. The sisters – daughters of the Venerable Mina Smallman, Britain’s first black female Anglican archdeacon – had lit fairy lights and were dancing to music together, reluctant to go home
But to Hussein it was the evening he would begin to fulfil his ‘contract’ with a demon – signed in his own blood – in which he promised to kill six women in six months in return for winning the £321million Mega Millions Super Jackpot lottery and not being suspected of his crimes. This is a true-life horror story, a sick fantasy, fed by the so-called dark web, made dreadful reality.
Hussein was an awkward teenager, diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum but with no sign of a mental illness that could present a danger to others.
But he had become obsessed with Satanism, neo-Nazi ideology, rape and murder.
In the early hours of that morning he stabbed Bibaa eight times, and her sister 28 times, with a 12-inch knife. He hid their bodies in undergrowth where they would not be found for 36 hours. Police believe if they had not caught him he would have killed again.
‘No one expects their children to die before them, but to have two out of three of your children murdered on the same night is just incomprehensible,’ said the victims’ mother in her victim impact statement.
She has a surviving middle daughter, Monique.
The tragedy for the sisters’ family was to be compounded by official errors, police incompetence and corporate privacy issues.
Mina Smallman, the mother of Nicole Smallman speaking outside the Old Bailey in London after Danyal Hussein was found guilty of killing sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry
This included an earlier, failed, opportunity to identify and attempt to change Hussein’s mindset when he was suspected of far-Right sympathies, aged 15, and the dilatory police response to reports of the sisters’ disappearance.
A US court’s refusal to grant detectives access to Hussein’s Apple iPad also led senior investigator Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding to complain that police were trying to investigate the murders ‘with our hands tied behind our backs’. Bibaa, who was celebrating her 46th birthday, had been a senior social worker with Buckinghamshire Council since 2017.
‘Bibaa was always working with people, trying to get the best out of them, motivate them,’ her mother said.
‘Before she became a social worker, one of her jobs was driving a mini van of disabled children to their swimming lessons. She loved the job, she knew all the children and they loved her.’
Danyal Hussein, 19, who killed sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, seen here in his police mugshot
Bibaa had her own grown-up daughter, Monet, who was pregnant at the time and had been the centre of attention at the party in Fryent Country Park, Brent, north-west London.
Nicole, 27, Bibaa’s half-sister, was her teacher father Chris’s only child and granddaughter of Professor Basil Smallman, a composer and former Pro-Vice Chancellor of Liverpool University.
She worked as a freelance photographer and photographer’s assistant and recently started a job at an events company. ‘She loved people,’ said her mother with whom she sang in a worship group, in the impact statement.
Nicole and Bibaa often went to music festivals together. The pair were close and lived not far apart in Wembley.
They were seen in the Co-op in nearby Kingsbury at around 7:30pm on Friday evening, buying provisions for the party. They were in good spirits and Nicole could be seen dancing and chatting to another customer. Further CCTV showed them entering the park at around 7:40pm.
After setting up at the top of a hill from which they could watch the sunset they spent the next few hours with a small group of friends; eating, drinking, dancing and playing cards – a ‘mini festival’ their mother called it. By midnight, all the guests had left but the sisters decided to stay.
Danyal Hussein, whose family home was in Blackheath on the other side of London, was staying at his grandmother’s home, close to the park. He had bought a set of knives at an Asda store.
The evening before the attack he collected a balaclava and two shovels from an Amazon locker on Edgware Road in central London. He was next caught on CCTV entering the park at around 8.40pm. Police think he spent some time observing the sisters.
It is believed Bibaa was attacked first, then Nicole, who attempted to fight him off. He dragged their bodies to a hedgerow where he hid them, then threw their mobile phones into a pond. He only left the park at 4.07am, having removed his bloodstained trousers. But his ‘pact’ with the devil had already failed. In the course of the attacks he sustained a knife cut to his right hand.
The sisters (above), who had been celebrating Ms Henry’s birthday with friends, were found by Ms Smallman’s boyfriend
The following day he sought hospital treatment, saying he’d been injured in a mugging. The DNA evidence provided by this wound would prove crucial. His victims were not reported missing to the police until 9pm on Saturday: 17 hours later, at lunchtime on Sunday, their bodies were found. Not by the police, who had failed to respond, but by Nicole’s boyfriend, Adam Stone.
He had gone to the park with his father, where they found two pairs of spectacles belonging to the sisters, as well as a knife in the grass.
Mr Stone broke down in court as he described the moment he discovered their bodies, entwined in the hedge, while he was on the phone to the police.
The slowness of the police response is now the subject of an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
A bloodstained blanket and cushions was found in a council tip. The blood on these items and on the knife found by Stone provided a familial DNA match with Hussein’s father, who had once been arrested and cautioned for an undisclosed offence.
When Hussein was arrested at Taser-point at his mother’s home in Eltham on July 1, it was apparent to officers the killer had an injury to his hand. Detectives then found a note, handwritten on green paper, hidden inside a TV unit in his bedroom
A knife similar to the one bought by Danyal Hussein in Asda in Colindale he used to murder the two innocent sisters
It began: ‘For the Mighty King Lucifuge Rofocale’ (a legendary demon who runs Hell’s government and treasury) and promised to ‘perform a minimum of six sacrifices every six months for as long as I am free and physically capable… Sacrifice only women, build a temple for you, do everything that I have promised.’
Underneath, again underlined, were the words ‘For me’ and then ‘Win the Mega Millions super jackpot.’ Hussein wrote that he wanted ‘to receive fruitful rewards for the future sacrifices I make to you, the rewards could consist of wealth and power, to never be suspected of any crimes by the police and also that the police will never know of any crimes that I have done and I will do.’
It was signed ‘Danyal’ in his own blood, followed by ‘King Lucifuge Rofocale’, with a space left for the demon’s signature.
Next to the note were three lottery tickets.
There was another note setting out a ‘spell’ in which he asked for a named girl in his class at school to ‘fall deeply in love with me.’
Other spells found in a folder asked for him to be made sexually attractive to women and increase his virility.
Hussein refused to give police his computer password. But they were able to recover material which suggested he had been surfing the dark web and talking to ‘likeminded people’ about satanic spells.
In the three weeks between the murders and his arrest, Hussein spent £144.88 on 31 different lottery tickets and online bets on foreign lotteries. He played his first Lotto Millions game less than 24 hours after the killings.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC told the court: ‘It would appear that the defendant had confidence that his plan would work since, following the fatal attacks upon Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, the defendant purchased several lottery tickets and there were three lottery tickets folded up inside the note [found in his room].
‘As it turned out, the demon did not come good on the bargain, since not only did the defendant not win the lottery but the police identified all the evidence that links him to these two murders.’ The killer’s behaviour in court, where he declined to give evidence, has been described as ‘despicable.’
He tried to catch the attention of his victims’ family, made ‘loser’ signs to a paramedic witness, and turned his back on the judge. In her victim impact statement, Mina Smallman said of Hussein and his actions: ‘I understand poor upbringing, greed.
‘I taught boys at secondary school and out of thousands of boys I have taught, I have never come across such evil.
‘If any good comes out of this, had he not been found, he had another four women lined up to murder to meet his pact with his so-called demon.’
She added: ‘There is no medication that can stop this pain. I have lost my firstborn and my baby.’ Mr Harding said: ‘This has been a shocking case that will stay with all of us for many years to come, not least the awful way in which these two vibrant women met their deaths as they celebrated Bibaa’s birthday, but also Hussein’s bizarre deluded fantasies that he should sacrifice the women in exchange for a lottery win. I strongly believe that he would have gone on to kill more women if he hadn’t injured his hand in such a way that he did when he killed Bibaa and Nicole.
‘It’s very difficult for my team still to this day to comprehend that this 18-year-old boy, as he was at the time, could have carried out such savage attacks.’
Additional reporting Duncan Gardham