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PC Nicholas Reeves dismissed from Kent Police after death of Colin Holt in 2010, who was restrained by officers

A Kent Police constable has been dismissed following the death of a mentally ill man who was restrained by officers.

PC Nicholas Reeves was one of several officers called to the home of Colin Holt who had been reported missing by staff at a local hospital on August 30, 2010.

PC Reeves and PC Leigh attempted to speak to Mr Holt but a violent struggle ensued in which PC Reeves was injured.

Nicholas Reeves
Nicholas Reeves

The officers then handcuffed Mr Holt and restrained him over a chair in a kneeling position.

PC Reeves then left and his role in the restraint was taken over by another officer, PC Bowdery.

But shortly afterwards Mr Holt stopped breathing.

An inquest found he had died from positional asphyxia and concluded officers had failed to monitor him properly before he died.

Home Office pathologists agreed the position he was held in was the ‘pre-eminent’ factor in his death.

The initial Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation, which finished in 2011, concluded PC Maurice Leigh and PC Neil Bowdery, had cases to answer for gross misconduct.

PC Leigh retired from the force prior to the misconduct process and PC Bowdery was dismissed from the force following a hearing in 2015.

Colin Holt
Colin Holt

But after the inquest the IPCC began a second investigation looking specifically at the actions of PC Reeves.

This investigation concluded he also had a case to answer for gross misconduct

Mr Holt, 52, died at his home in Gillingham after a period of restraint by Kent Police officers.

The IPCC’s investigatior decided PC Reeves’ behaviour fell below the standards expected of him and he had a case to answer for gross misconduct in respect of use of force, duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy.

This prompted a misconduct hearing, held today at Kent Police headquarters in Maidstone, where the panel agreed with the IPCC that PC Reeves’ behaviour amounted to gross misconduct.

The panel also agreed PC Reeves breached the standards of honesty and integrity by lying about Mr Holt swearing at him.

PC Reeves was also found guilty of gross misconduct with regard to an unrelated matter in which he inappropriately used a force mobile phone to contact women.

Harbledown Manor in Twydall, where Mr Holt died
Harbledown Manor in Twydall, where Mr Holt died

PC Reeves, who did not attend the hearing today, was dismissed from the force with immediate effect.

IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said: "My thoughts and sympathies remain with everybody affected by Mr Holt's death. His family have shown great courage and dignity over the last six years.

“PC Reeves failed in his duty of care to Mr Holt by not repositioning him during the period of restraint and failing to ensure his breathing was not compromised.

“It was unnecessary to keep Mr Holt in the position the officers did for any length of time, which the inquest found contributed more than minimally to his death."

Following the initial IPCC investigation, Kent Police accepted recommendations made relating to the way the force deals with mental health patients when returning them to hospital and the designation of a principal safety officer.

Kent Police said: "PC Reeves faced an allegation that he had restrained a member of the public, Colin Holt, in a prone position that was inherently dangerous.

"He also faced allegations relating to inappropriate use of police premises and breach of policy regarding use of his police issued mobile phone.

"The allegations were found to be proven as gross misconduct. The officer’s conduct was considered to have breached Kent Police’s standards of professional behaviour and he was dismissed without notice. He has the right to appeal this decision.

"Kent Police expects the highest standards of its officers and staff and any employee whose behaviour is suspected of falling below these standards will be subject to scrutiny.

"The death of Mr Holt was a tragedy, and a number of officers have since faced disciplinary action.

"Since his death in 2010, Kent Police has made great strides in the training that officers receive in relation to people suffering from mental health episodes, as well as controlled restraint, to minimise the chances of such a tragic incident ever occurring again."

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