Fri, 31 Jul 2020
(L-R) Henry Long, Jessie Cole, and Albert Bowers have been found guilty of manslaughter
THREE teenagers who killed Pc Andrew Harper in the line of duty as he responded to a late night burglary have been given 16 and 13-year jail terms, as the judge ruled out the suggestion jurors cleared them of murder due to “improper pressure”.
Henry Long, aged 19, of College Piece, Mortimer, Albert Bowers, aged 18, of Windmill Corner, Mortimer Common, and Jessie Cole, aged 18, of Paices Hill Travellers Site, Aldermaston, were all convicted of PC Harper’s manslaughter last Friday, July 24, at the Old Bailey following a four week trial. All three were acquitted of murder.
They had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quadbike. Long had already pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Today Long was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment, while Bowers and Cole were each jailed for 13 years at the same court.
Thomas King, aged 21, of Strawberry Fields, Bramley in Hampshire, had also admitted conspiracy to steal a quadbike before the trial, and was sentenced to two years imprisonment. King was not directly involved in the incident that led to PC Harper’s death.
Sentencing the trio, who are members of the travelling community, Mr Justice Edis said: “Nothing which I can do, or could have done, if there had been a conviction for murder, can restore Andrew Harper to his loving wife and family or to the public he served so well.
“His devastating loss in these terrible circumstances will follow his family forever.”
He described them as “young, unintelligent but professional criminals”.
The judge added: “In better language, you killed a talented and brave young police officer who was going above and beyond his duty in order to provide a public service, you did so because you have deliberately decided to expose any police officer that got in your way to a risk of death.”
Mr Harper’s family were present in court as the sentences were handed down. Some members of the jury also returned, to an adjoining courtroom, to follow the proceedings on videolink.
Addressing the court in person, Mrs Harper broke down as she described her future being “robbed” by the teenagers.
She said: “They took more than one life away that day, they stole the person I used to be.
“I will spend every day for the rest of my life with a hole that will never be filled.”
She added: “Four weeks was all I had with my husband – four weeks to be called his wife.
“My life often feels bleak, hopeless, irreparable.”
Newbury MP Laura Farris described the sentences as "substantial."
She tweeted: "Nothing can bring Andrew back and the appalling circumstances of his death shocked our community to its core.
"But these are substantial sentences – particularly for Henry Long – and will see these three behind bars for a long time."
Senior investigating officer, Det Supt Stuart Blaik, of Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit, said: “Today, Long, Bowers and Cole have been sentenced for the manslaughter of our colleague PC Andrew Harper.
“They are now facing prison sentences. I hope they use the time to reflect on the fact that their selfish, reckless actions on Thursday 15 August last year led to the tragic death of PC Harper, and have caused so much misery to so many people.
“I do not believe that Cole, Bowers or Long have ever shown a single ounce of genuine remorse throughout this process. They did everything they could to frustrate our investigation, repeatedly telling lies and attempting to hide evidence. It is thanks to the work of so many dedicated officers and staff that their lies were exposed and that they have all been convicted of manslaughter.
“On August 15 last year, we lost a brave, young and dedicated police officer, who was killed simply doing his job.
“Pc Harper, along with his colleague Pc Shaw, were responding to the reported burglary four hours after they should have ended their shift.
“This selfless decision was in direct contrast to the actions of Long, Bowers and Cole, who put the theft of a quadbike above the safety of others.
“No matter the convictions, or sentences handed down, there was never going to be a sense of victory. No jail sentence could ever repair the agony felt by the family, colleagues and friends of Andrew.
“We often talk about the end of legal proceedings bringing closure for a victim’s loved ones. I know that can never be the case for Andrew’s family.
“I would like to reiterate my thanks on behalf of Thames Valley Police, and the wider policing family, for the dedicated and passionate service that Andrew provided to protect the public.
“Andrew’s family have acted with great dignity and courage throughout the process of the investigation, and court trial. Their strength throughout these unimaginable circumstances has been inspiring to us all.
“Today marks the end of the trial and of an ordeal which began on August 15th last year, but I know that for so many people the grieving will continue. We will always remember Pc Andrew Harper and we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice he made when protecting the public from these selfish and reckless criminals.”