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Family of Paralysed Man Reaches £1.2 Million Settlement After High Court Claim Against Police

The family of Julian Cole, a man who was left paralyzed and requiring round-the-clock care following an altercation outside a nightclub, has agreed to a £1.2 million settlement in a High Court claim against the police. Julian Cole was just 19 years old when he was forcibly restrained by Bedfordshire Police officers outside Elements nightclub in Bedford on May 6, 2013, after being ejected from the venue.

As a result of the incident, Mr Cole sustained a broken neck, damage to his spinal cord, and suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. Tragically, he has never recovered and remains paralyzed and in a vegetative state, necessitating constant care.

The settlement, which was reached outside of court and does not imply liability on the part of Bedfordshire Police, was approved by Mr Justice Martin Spencer at a hearing in London on Friday. While addressing the court, Mr Justice Martin Spencer stated, “On two occasions Julian was taken to the ground by the police. On the second occasion, it would appear that Julian sustained severe injuries, including damage to his spinal cord and subsequent hypoxic brain injury, from which he did not recover.

Although Bedfordshire Police did not admit liability, Mr Justice Martin Spencer noted that the settlement and the circumstances surrounding Julian’s injuries left little doubt that the actions of the police officers were responsible for his injuries and were indefensible. He further highlighted that an attempt had been made by the police officers involved to falsify their account of events, leading to disciplinary proceedings.

The tragic incident unfolded when Mr Cole was asked to leave the nightclub and subsequently demanded a refund. This request resulted in a confrontation that led to the injuries he sustained. Shockingly, these injuries were only discovered after Mr. Cole had been arrested, transported to a police van, and driven approximately one mile to a police station, where an ambulance was eventually called.

In 2018, Police Constables Hannah Ross, Sanjeev Kalyan, and Nicholas Oates were found guilty of gross misconduct after it was revealed that they had lied about Mr Cole’s condition during his arrest and transportation in the police van. They had falsely claimed that Mr Cole had been able to walk into the van, but CCTV footage contradicted their account, showing Mr Cole being carried with his legs dragging on the ground and his head hanging down. Sergeant Andrew Withey, a fourth officer, was found guilty of misconduct for failing to conduct proper welfare checks and received a final written warning. The Crown Prosecution Service had previously stated that no criminal charges would be filed.

Julian Cole, who is currently cared for at a medical facility, was initially hoped to be accommodated in his own home and looked after by a team of carers. However, the family’s view has since changed, with the settlement enabling him to access additional care, therapies, and equipment while continuing to receive care at the same facility where he has been for the past decade.

During Friday’s hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Cole’s mother, Claudia Cole, who wept during the proceedings, and his brother, Claude, were in attendance. Angus McCullough KC, representing the family, stated that the settlement was “in Julian’s best interests to accept.” Neil Block KC, representing Bedfordshire Police, expressed his understanding of the family’s difficult circumstances and wished them the best for the future.

In a statement, Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst of Bedfordshire Police said, “This case is an absolute tragedy which has had a devastating effect on a young man’s life. While independent reviews have not been able to conclusively determine how he suffered his injuries, what is clear is that the actions of some of those attending fell well short of the standards I, and the public, expect. I have apologized to his family for the conduct of the three officers who were rightly resulted dismissed in 2018 for their dishonesty regarding Mr. Cole’s condition following his arrest. Our thoughts remain with Mr. Cole and his loved ones.”

The settlement brings some financial relief to Mr. Cole’s family, although it cannot change the tragic circumstances that have forever altered his life.

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