Kent

Colin Holt death: Kent Police officers cleared

Pc Neil Bowdery (left) and Pc Maurice Leigh
Image caption Neil Bowdery (left) and Maurice Leigh have been cleared of misconduct in public office

Two police officers have been cleared of misconduct relating to the death of a man with paranoid schizophrenia they had detained at his home.

Kent PCs Maurice Leigh and Neil Bowdery were found not guilty of misconduct in public office over the death of Colin Holt in August 2010.

Mr Holt, 52, died from positional asphyxia at his flat in Goudhurst Road, Twydall, in Gillingham.

They had been accused of acting with "reckless indifference" towards him.

During the trial at Maidstone Crown Court jurors were told Mr Holt was admitted to the Medway Maritime Hospital on 28 August and detained under the Mental Health Act.

'Hectic, violent incident'

Two days later he went missing, prompting police to check his flat to return him to hospital.

The court heard PC Leigh, 54, and a colleague let themselves into Mr Holt's unlocked home but restrained him and placed him face down in an armchair to stop him lashing out when he became aggressive.

Emergency back-up was requested and other officers, including PC Bowdery, 29, arrived on the scene.

Following the acquittal, Mr Holt's sister Sharon Holt said: "We still have many unanswered questions about what happened to our brother and how he came to die in these circumstances.

"It has been a long and hard wait for answers and we hope that an inquest will follow quickly."

Ian Pointon, chairman of Kent Police Federation, said: "This was a tragedy for Mr Holt and his family. However, this has been a hugely traumatic experience for these two officers; two officers who were trying to do their best in a very hectic, violent and fast-moving incident.

"The judge quite rightly asked why this case had taken so long to get to court. I would go further and ask why it was taken to court at all.

"It took a jury of 12 members of the public just over three hours to acquit both officers. I believe that says it all."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) initially investigated Mr Holt's death before referring it to the CPS in September 2012.

IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said: "This is a desperately sad case and my thoughts go out to Mr Holt's family and friends.

"We await Kent Police's response to our investigation report and will prepare for the inquest in due course."

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