Three police officers involved in arresting a man left paralysed and brain-damaged have been sacked after being found guilty of gross misconduct. A police misconduct panel on Monday reached a verdict that four officers of the Berkshire Police Service – PC Hannah Ross, PC Nicholas Oates, PC Sanjeev Kalyan and PS Andrew Withey – lied about the circumstances around the arrest and detention of Julian Cole.
The incident happened in the early hours of the morning on May 6, 2013, when the 19 year old sports science student left Elements Nightclub, Bedford with friends. They were asked to leave the club but Cole, seemingly intent on requesting a refund, ran back to the club.
Julian Cole was tackled to the ground twice, the first time by the club’s security and on a second occasion by police officers. There is CCTV footage showing the young man apparently unconscious dragged across the road by the police officers towards the police van and he was then taken to a police station rather than to hospital for emergency treatment. The young man suffered a broken neck and a severe spinal cord injury which led to a cardiac arrest, serious brain injury and he was left paralysed. He has spent the last five years in a vegetative state.
The three officers were accused of breaching their code of conduct for honesty and integrity in their accounts of what happened. They were found to have lied about his condition in statements in their pocket notebooks and in interviews.
Clearing away the lies about what happened that night enables us to get closer to the truth and we won’t stop until we know who put Julian into a vegetative state and until they have had to answer for what they did in a criminal court.
Julian Cole’s mother, Claudia
The misconduct panel decided that the three officers’ conduct amounted to gross misconduct and they were dismissed without notice. Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire called the case ‘an absolute tragedy, which has had a devastating effect on a young man and his loved ones’. ‘This hearing in essence reviewed a seven minute encounter which took place more than five years ago, and I agree with the panel that the length of time the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and CPS enquiries have taken to get to this stage is simply unacceptable to Mr Cole, his family, the officers concerned and the force. On far too many occasions investigations such as these take years to come to a resolution and this cannot be right.’
Julian Cole’s mother Claudia Cole said welcomed the tribunal decision. ‘When we first saw Julian in a coma and on life support five and a half years ago; and the police officer told us that he had been “chatty” in the police van, we suspected a cover up.’
The family’s solicitor Rachel Harger of the law firm Bindmans, noting that hearing was not about who caused his injuries, said the outcome has ‘confirmed the family’s belief that police officers gave deliberately dishonest accounts in order to avoid criticisms of wrongdoing and their behaviour demonstrated a callous disregard for his wellbeing’. ‘Fresh evidence has come out during the course of the hearing which will assist the family as they seek answers as to who caused the injuries Julian suffered and we shall now be calling on the IOPC to re-open their investigation,’ she said.