A judge has sentenced a former police officer for making up a report that four men in a Ramsgate churchyard had attacked him.
Michael Tovell appeared at Canterbury Crown Court on Monday, 29 July 2019 where he received 15-months imprisonment after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
At a trial in June, a jury heard how the 46-year-old claimed he was assaulted while carrying out enquiries to locate a missing person in St Lawrence Graveyard, Ramsgate, on 2 February 2018.
Tovell 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 sustained very minor 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 was found on the extensive CCTV to leave the area and witnesses who came forward described the churchyard 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 churchyard alone and the activation of his alarm were uncovered.
After he was suspended and arrested on March 2018, the matters were put to Tovell in an interview, but he was unable to provide any reasonable explanations.
On 12 June 2019, a jury at Canterbury Crown Court found him guilty of perverting the course of justice.
On 12 July, Tovell’s case was considered at a misconduct hearing, and he was found to have breached Kent Police’s standards of professional behaviour.
He was dismissed without notice.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said:
‘Perverting the course of justice is a serious offence, and in this case, it means time officers should have dedicated to legitimate victims was wasted investigating a false allegation.
‘It became clear in our investigations that this attack never happened and it was only right that we investigated Tovell and the validity of his claims.
‘A jury found them to be fabrication and Tovell’s sentence sends a clear message that perverting the course of justice will not be tolerated.
‘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.’