Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Julian Cole: Three Bedfordshire Police officers sacked

Julian Cole was involved in a scuffle with doormen and police officers outside a nightclub in Bedford in 2013.

The officers were found to have lied in statements about Mr Cole's condition during his arrest.

PCs Nicholas Oates, Sanjeev Kalyan and Hannah Ross were found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed.

They had failed to ask "basic questions" to check his welfare during arrest, and he needed CPR at the police station, the hearing was told.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Cole's mother, Claudia Cole, said: "This tribunal decision makes it clear that not only did the officers lie about the event involving Julian, they showed an inhuman indifference to his welfare."

Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire called the case a "tragedy", adding: "I apologise that [the officers'] conduct following the incident fell well short of what we expect at Bedfordshire Police."

She added that the length of time the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) took with their investigations was "simply unacceptable".

Sports science student Mr Cole, then aged 19, had gone to the former Elements nightclub on 5 May 2013 for a night out with friends, but was ejected through a side door.

He was refused a refund by door staff and kept trying to get back in to the club, leading to staff calling the police at 01:34 GMT on 6 May.

During one attempt to enter the nightclub, Mr Cole was taken to the ground by a bouncer, before standing back up, the hearing was told.

He was then "taken to the ground" by PCs Oates, Kalyan and Ross at 01:48 before being cuffed with "his face down on the ground".

The three officers lifted him from the ground, and he was taken via a police van to the police station.

At 02:02 PC Ross called an ambulance, and paramedics arrived at the police station and began CPR on Mr Cole, who was not breathing. Thirty minutes later he was taken to hospital where a broken vertebra was discovered.

The panel found that PC Ross "made up her account" of Mr Cole moving his legs in an "attempt to demonstrate she had taken Mr Cole's report of neck pain seriously when she had not".

The hearing was also told that PC Kalyan tried to "shift responsibility" over what happened to the student.

He was found to have lied in his statement when he stated that he had heard PC Ross ask Mr Cole if he could move his legs, and that he moved them in response.

PC Oates had also said that Mr Cole had walked to the police van during his arrest, which the panel said he knew was not true.

PCs Ross, Kalyan and Oates "did not ask any basic questions concerning his welfare". However, the panel added this was "most unlikely to have changed the outcome for [Mr Cole]".

The panel also said that Sgt Andrew Withey failed to make "any enquiry" when PC Ross asked whether Mr Cole should go directly to hospital or custody, and failed to "react" to hearing Mr Cole say his neck hurt.

Sgt Withey was given a final written warning after being found guilty of misconduct.

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The PCs were found to have breached standards of honesty, while all four were found by the misconduct panel in Stevenage to have breached standards of duties and responsibilities.

An allegation against PC Ross concerning the force she allegedly used with the handcuffs was found not proved.

The IOPC referred its findings of an earlier investigation to the CPS, which decided that no criminal conduct had occurred.

IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said: "It will never be known exactly how his neck was broken, or if swifter care could have prevented the awful consequences of the break."

She added the officers' "dishonesty has only added to the anguish of Mr Cole's family".