Teenagers found guilty of killing PC Andrew Harper, but cleared of murder

A furious driver who threatened to “ram” the police has been cleared of murdering a brave officer who was killed as he tried to catch him and his thieving accomplices.

A photo issued by Thames Valley Police of 28-year-old Pc Andrew Harper and his wife, Lissie. Picture: Thames Valley Police/PA Wire
A photo issued by Thames Valley Police of 28-year-old Pc Andrew Harper and his wife, Lissie. Picture: Thames Valley Police/PA Wire

But Henry Long, 19, and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, who were determined to escape “at all costs” after stealing a quad bike in Berkshire, are facing years in jail for manslaughter.

Newlywed Pc Andrew Harper, 28, became entangled in a tow rope attached to their Seat Toledo as he tried to apprehend them.

Long drove off at “breakneck” speed, dragging the Thames Valley Police officer for more than a mile along country lanes before he was dislodged, having suffered horrific injuries.

The teenagers admitted plotting the theft and Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but each denied knowing that Pc Harper was there.

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All three were cleared of murder by an Old Bailey jury, which had deliberated for more than 12 hours, but Cole and Bowers were found guilty of manslaughter.

Their defence claimed the incident was a “freak event” that none of them could have planned or foreseen.

But the prosecution said at more than 6ft and weighing 14 stone, the defendants must have been aware Pc Harper was being dragged to his death.

A reconstruction suggested rather than stopping, Long swerved in the road to try to throw him off.

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Jurors also saw dashcam footage that appeared to catch the moment Cole turned towards the officer before diving through the window of the getaway car and making good his escape.

Pc Harper’s tearful widow Lissie was comforted by other family members in court as the verdicts at the Old Bailey were delivered.

Mr Justice Edis adjourned sentence until next Friday.

It can now be reported Long had previously threatened to “ram” a police officer as he chatted with a police community support officer (PCSO).

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In the conversation in July 2018, ruled inadmissible during the trial, Long said: “You can’t touch me now ‘cos I’ve passed my driving test and if police try to stop me I will ram them.”

Long had previous convictions for battery, being drunk and disorderly and shoplifting.

Bowers also had youth convictions including for battery, criminal damage, sexual assault, and having an offensive weapon.

All three defendants were said to be members of the travellers’ community.

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