A stark warning has been issued to the press by a police chief over the reporting of an incident outside a Bedford nightclub that left a young man paralysed and brain damaged.
Julian Cole, 21, suffered a broken neck back in 2013 after being ejected from a town centre venue.
He was arrested and taken to Bedford’s police station where an ambulance was called because the sport science student from Bedfordshire University was unresponsive.
Beds Police Chief Constable Colette Paul has written to The Guardian newspaper and the BBC requesting that inaccuracies around their recent reporting be corrected.
She said: “It concerns me when I see inaccurate reporting as this compromises both the relationship between police and the press; as well as the relationship with our public. Furthermore, it can have prejudicial implications when it comes to trials which can compromise the ability for victims to secure justice.
“The recent media coverage has strongly suggested that officers are culpable for Mr Cole’s injuries. An investigation is currently underway and Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is considering all potential suspects. To date, they have not reached any conclusions regarding this case so it is therefore inaccurate and inappropriate to apportion blame to Bedfordshire Police officers or any other suspects whilst the investigation is still underway.”
The IPCC has pledged to bring its investigation to a conculsion as soon as possible.
Julian, who now requires around the clock care, suffered a hangman’s fracture in the incident, which is caused by over-extension and pulling back of the head.
Ms Paul said: “It is a tragedy that such a young man has sustained life-changing injuries and I fully appreciate the frustration that the family and those under investigation must feel as they await the outcome of the IPCC investigation. We all want to see the investigation concluded and any perpetrators brought to justice but whilst the investigation is underway, we cannot make any assumptions about where the blame lies.”
“Bedfordshire Police will continue to be fully supportive of the investigation and we hope that Mr Cole and his family will soon have the closure that they require.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins added “It is understandable that Mr Cole’s family are frustrated at the length of time this investigation has taken. To have no conclusion after almost two years is unacceptable and I sympathise with everybody concerned. I urge the IPCC to progress their investigation expeditiously so that justice for Mr Cole can be delivered.”