Three police officers have been sacked for lying about an incident in which a black university student suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injury, leaving him almost totally paralysed and severely brain damaged.

Since the incident outside Elements nightclub in Bedford in March 2013, during which he was twice tackled to the ground, Cole, a talented athlete who was studying sports science, has been in a vegetative state, from which he will never recover. He was just 19 years old when he suffered the life-changing injury.

The officers were found to have lied in both their pocket notebooks and subsequent statements to investigators about Cole’s condition when he was taken to a police van after he was restrained and arrested. “The false accounts were intended to mislead and divert attention from their actions as they inevitably came under scrutiny,” said John Bassett, chair of the panel.

No case was made against any of the officers for the injury inflicted on Cole. However, the panel heard evidence from a medical expert who suggested that, on the balance of probabilities, it was police who broke his neck when they tackled him to the floor.

Prof Charles Davis, a consultant neurosurgeon, said “it was possible but unlikely” that Cole was able to get up and engage in a further struggle with police if his neck was broken when he was first taken down, by a bouncer from Elements.

Police officers were found to have made up accounts of the welfare checks made on Cole and his response to them, including claims he was still able to move his legs when placed in the back of a police van.

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