Fri, 24 Jul 2020
(L-R) Henry Long, Jessie Cole, and Albert Bowers have been found guilty of manslaughter
Three teenagers have been convicted of the manslaughter of Pc Andrew Harper.
Henry Long, 19 from Mortimer, Albert Bowers, 18, from Mortimer, and Jessie Cole, 18, from Aldermaston were found not guilty of murdering the Thames Valley Police officer.
A jury at the Old Bailey returned the manslaughter verdict this morning (Friday), after deliberating for 12 hours and 22 minutes, following a four week trial at the Old Bailey.
The 28-year-old newly-wed officer was killed as he tried to apprehend the teenagers who had stolen a quad bike from Stanfrod Dingley on the night of August 15 last year.
He became caught in a tow rope attached to their getaway car and was dragged more than a mile along country lanes, the Old Bailey has heard.
Pc Harper suffered horrific injuries and died at the scene near the A4 in Berkshire.
Long (pictured above) had admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to steal a quad bike but denied murder. Bowers and Cole (pictured below) admitted conspiracy to steal but denied murder or manslaughter.
The defendants will be sentenced at the Old Bailey next Friday. They will all be brought to the court, having heard verdicts via video link.
The teenagers admitted plotting the theft and Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter but each denied knowing that Pc Harper was there.
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 that rather than stopping, Long swerved in the road to try to throw him off.
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 were delivered.
Chief crown prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern, Jaswant Kaur Narwal, said: “This is a truly heart-breaking case in which a young police officer with everything to look forward to tragically lost his life in the line of duty.
“He was killed trying to stop suspects who were prepared to go to any lengths to get away with their crime".
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.
Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor Rebecca Waller said she hoped the verdicts would help Pc Harper’s family come to terms with the tragedy.
On the defendants’ behaviour, she said: “If they had stopped, potentially his life could have been saved but they were determined to get away at all costs. That cost was the life of Pc Andrew Harper.
“You have to remember there were members of the public, not only Pc Harper, who could have been in the road who could have encountered them, and travelling at those speeds over those narrow roads without lights, it is not impossible to imagine that other people could have been killed.”
With 10n people arrested by Thames Valley Police, the initial challenge was to establish who had been in the car responsible for Pc Harper’s death.
Despite two of the defendants discarding their mobile phones and insisting they had been watching films that night, extensive phone analysis was able to place them exactly at the scene.
However, as the Seat car contained three people, the CPS said the question was whether each participant was equally guilty of killing Pc Harper.
The CPS successfully argued that because the trio had acted together in stealing the bike and evading police, they were also equally responsible for Pc Harper’s death, despite the fact only one of them was behind the wheel.
Miss Narwal added: “Our case quite simply was that the thieves were intent on causing serious harm to anyone who got in their way that August night and tragically this was what happened to Pc Harper.
“It has been an emotional trial, and evidentially challenging, but I am pleased the jury has found all three culpable for Pc Harper’s death. My thoughts remain with all of his family and his colleagues at Thames Valley Police.”