A Thanet police officer has been found guilty of making up a report that he had been attacked in a Ramsgate church yard.
Michael Tovell, 46, reported being set upon by a gang of four men with baseball bats whilst carrying out enquiries to find a missing person in St Lawrence Chase, Ramsgate, on February 2, 2018.
Tovell, of Margate Road, Ramsgate, activated his personal emergency alarm shortly after 9.30pm and was heard over the police radio to shout; ‘Get back’ and; ‘I’m Taser trained. Put it down.’
Two of Tovell’s colleagues were attending a nearby shop when his emergency alarm was activated and arrived on the scene within an estimated 30 seconds. They carried out an immediate search of the area but the group of men who he claimed had attacked him were never found.
An ambulance crew was called to the scene after Tovell described being attacked with baseball bats and wooden planks. At hospital he was found to have suffered no apparent injuries and was discharged within a few hours.
During the subsequent investigations to identify Tovell’s attackers, question marks began to surface around the legitimacy of his account.
A significant number of house-to-house enquiries were carried out, two witness appeals were issued and an examination of the local CCTV – which had comprehensive coverage of the area – took place.
Crucially, no one matching Tovell’s description of four heavily-built men were found on the extensive CCTV to leave the area and witnesses who came forward described the church yard and surrounding roads as typically quiet at the time of the assault.
Further inconsistencies such as a lack of audio capturing the attack on Tovell’s emergency radio recording and four unaccounted for minutes between Tovell leaving colleagues to enter the church yard alone and the activation of his alarm were uncovered.
After he was suspended and arrested in March 2018, the matters were put to Tovell in interview but he was unable to provide any reasonable explanations.
Today (June 12), a jury at Canterbury Crown Court found him guilty of perverting the course of justice. A date for his sentencing has not yet been set. Psychiatric reports will be completed first.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “A significant amount of time and resources went into investigating what was, on the surface, a report of a very serious assault on a police officer.
“But as our enquiries delved deeper into the account given by Tovell, it became clear this report was fabricated and our attentions turned to him. We’re pleased the court has recognised the severity of his actions.
“Tovell’s decision to make up being attacked by a group of men not only has a profound impact on the public and its confidence in policing, but also on his colleagues, some of whom have been assaulted while on duty.”
Once court proceedings have concluded, Kent Police will begin a misconduct process.