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Officer involved in the fatal restraint of Colin Holth is found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed by Kent Police
PC Reeves was today found guilty of gross misconduct regarding the restraint of Colin Holt and the unlawful entry into Colin’s property. He was also found guilty of being in breach of the professional standards of honesty and integrity regarding false statements he gave about his conduct during the restraint of Colin. The disciplinary hearing also found that he breached his duty of care to Colin.
Colin Holt died on 30 August 2010. He suffered from mental health problems and had absconded from the hospital where he had been sectioned. Police were subsequently called and attended his property where they entered and restrained him. On 18 February 2015, a jury returned critical findings in the inquest into the death of Colin. They concluded that 3 police officers failed to comply with their duty of care for Colin after he had been restrained in the prone position with his hands cuffed behind his back. The jury found that this position was maintained throughout the restraint of Colin which resulted in the compromise of his breathing and subsequently caused his death by positional asphyxia. The medical experts who gave evidence agreed that, on the balance of probabilities, had Colin be repositioned earlier after he was initially restrained he would not have died.
After an IPCC investigation following Colin’s death, two officers were charged with misconduct in public office. They were acquitted at Maidstone Crown Court in May 2013.
In April 2015 PC Bowdery, one of the officers involved in the restraint of Colin, was dismissed from Kent Police following a police disciplinary hearing finding of gross misconduct. A third officer involved, PC Leigh, retired from the force prior to the misconduct process.
Sharon Holt, Colin Holt’s sister, said:
“Six years on from Colin’s death, we still have many unanswered questions.
We raised concerns about Colin’s mental health almost four weeks before he was finally sectioned. Colin received no support during this time. In the days before Colin died I wasn't concerned about his mental health and so cannot understand why the decision was taken to section him the next day.
It is still very upsetting that we were not informed when Colin was sectioned or told where he was.
We are pleased with the decision of the IPCC to recommend a disciplinary hearing for this officer.
We are also thankful for the support of Mark Scott, our solicitor and Shona Crallan, our caseworker at INQUEST.”
Shona Crallan from INQUEST said:
“It is unacceptable that this family should have to wait 6 years for a police officer, involved in Colin’s death, to be held accountable. We welcome the decision today, while conscious of the many questions still unanswered for Colin’s family.”
INQUEST has been working with the family of Colin Holt since 2010. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Mark Scott from Bhatt Murphy solicitors.
‘I was already working with INQUEST, which is the organisation who monitor deaths in custody, and at one AGM I told the audience that what happened to these people [killed in police custody like Chistopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and many others] could happen to any of us. And then a couple of years later, I was standing in front of them again but now it had happened to my cousin. So my family and me were now “users” of Inquest. It shows you that none of us are immune – here am I, Benjamin Zephaniah, patron of INQUEST and client of INQUEST at the same time.’
– Benjamin Zephaniah