A POLICE officer who punched a prisoner four times as he tried to restrain him has been sacked from the force.

UPDATE: Sgt Travi reinstated after appealing against 'unfair' dismissal

Sergeant Colin Travi was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour in respect of use of force and discreditable conduct as he tried to restrain a prisoner at Abingdon Police Station on August 18 last year.

At a misconduct hearing at Thames Valley Police’s headquarters in Kidlington yesterday, the custody sergeant said his actions were ‘absolutely necessary’ as he feared the prisoner could have self-harmed or assaulted officers.

But a panel chaired by Muzamil Khan decided to dismiss Sgt Travi, it was announced this evening.

The force's deputy chief constable John Campbell said: "We expect the highest of standards from all of our officers and are committed to investigating any behaviour which does not adhere to those set within Thames Valley Police.

"On this occasion Sgt Travi's actions fell short of those standards and he has been dismissed."

A statement released by TVP said Sgt Travi had used 'excessive and unnecessary force'. 

On Tuesday the panel had heard how Sgt Travi took a hold of prisoner Michael Hogan after he became ‘agitated’ in his cell.

They also heard how Mr Hogan, who had been arrested on suspicion of burglary and driving offences, made threats to self-harm and assault officers.

On behalf of Thames Valley Police against Sgt Travi, Mark Ley-Morgan said Mr Hogan was initially placed in handcuffs and leg restraints after the prisoner had ‘indicated he would self harm’.

After the restraints were taken off him, the panel heard Mr Hogan became ‘agitated’ he had not been able to see a solicitor, and that officers - on cell watch - called for Sgt Travi to come and talk to him.

Mr Ley-Morgan added: “You took hold of Mr Hogan and a struggled ensued and three other officers sought to restrain and handcuff him.

“During the struggle you punched Mr Hogan four times to the head and face.”

CCTV footage showed Sgt Travi talking with Mr Hogan before a struggle ensued.

It also showed four arm movements from Sgt Travi, but the officer said he only recalled striking Mr Hogan twice.

Mr Ley-Morgan said following struggle, handcuffs and leg restraints were applied before Mr Hogan appeared to ‘collapse, become unconscious or unresponsive’.

He added Mr Hogan ‘came round’ and was taken to hospital.

Mr Ley-Morgan said Mr Hogan had a history of self-harming and was ‘known by police as someone who on occasion had been violent and had been violent against police officers’.

Mr Ley-Morgan said it was alleged Sgt Travi breached the standards of professional behaviour as it was ‘not reasonable’ to take hold of Mr Hogan, ‘not necessary nor reasonable’ to punch him and ‘not proportionate’ to punch him four times.

Sgt Travi, a police officer since 1997, said said his actions were necessary after the prisoner did not calm down when asked and after his initial efforts to control him failed.

Sgt Travi said the high risks Mr Hogan posed meant that his cell door was left open and officers were watching him at all times.

The officer said he went through the ‘stages’ police officers are training to follow when dealing with situations like this, but said they were not having the desired effect.

He added: “He was making direct threats. We had to take control and the only viable way to do that was to go hands on."

Sgt Travi said he shouted for the prisoner to desist but he did not, adding he was ‘phenomenally strong’.

He said he punched Mr Hogan because he thought the longer the struggle went on, the more likely the ‘subject or the officers’ could get hurt.

He added: “I was off balance, in a confined space. The only target area was at the side of his face.

“It was absolutely necessary to do what I had to do. I wish I could have done something different, but in the circumstances I had to do something.”

Mr Ley-Morgan said: “We accept that Mr Hogan was undoubtedly a challenging prisoner who has made threats to self harm and to assault officers very shortly before Sergeant Travi took hold of him.

“As for the initial taking hold of Mr Hogan, it’s the appropriate authority’s case that was not necessary in the circumstances.

“If the officer believed that he was about to be assaulted or Mr Hogan was about to assault one of his colleagues, he could have simply moved back.. out the way.

“He could have retreated out the cell and shut the door. He did not need to start this struggled in the first place.

“He created a struggle where he did not need to do so.

“It’s the appropriate authority’s case, firstly that the struggle should have never happened in the first place.

“It simply was not necessary to take hold of Mr Hogan when sergeant Travi did.

“Secondly, it was not necessary, reasonable or proportionate to punch Mr Hogan at all.”

Mr Ley-Morgan also argued Sgt Travi could have struck Mr Hogan on his shoulder or arm.