Thieves found guilty of killing PC Andrew Harper
A gang of thieves who dragged a police officer for more than a mile behind their car as it sped down a country lane have today been found guilty of killing him.
Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were towing a stolen quad bike in the Berkshire countryside when they were confronted by PC Andrew Harper and a crewmate as they responded to an emergency call on 15 August last year.
Jaswant Kaur Narwal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern, 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."
Cole, who was ‘riding’ the stolen £10,000 quad bike, rushed to get back in the group’s car to flee, prompting PC Harper to leave his unmarked police vehicle to chase him.
Cole managed to jump through the passenger window of the SEAT, at which point Long drove off at pace.
As the car sped off, 28-year-old PC Harper had become caught in a tow rope attached to the boot of the car and was now being dragged along behind it.
Long drove for 1.4 miles before PC Harper’s fatally injured body became detached from the car and was abandoned in the road.
Now actively pursued by police, Long drove the car towards Four Houses Corner in Ufton Nervet, where officers located the teenagers and arrested them.
Causing serious harm
The prosecution’s case was that the teenagers had gone out that night to commit theft - and nothing was going to stop them succeeding.
Earlier in the day Long, Cole and Bowers had scoped out a quad bike at a farm under renovation in Bradfield Southend, Berkshire, thinking no one would be there.
After being confronted by the farmer, they returned at nightfall disguised in balaclavas and armed with crowbars, a large axe and a hammer, to steal it.
Determining who was responsible
With ten 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 killers discarding their mobiles 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 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.”
After a four-week trial at the Old Bailey, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers have been found guilty of manslaughter. Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter at an earlier hearing.
All three pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quad bike at an earlier hearing.
Notes to editors
- Henry Long (D.O.B. 28 April 2001) pleaded guilty to theft and manslaughter at an earlier hearing
- Albert Bowers (D.O.B. 30 March 2002) pleaded guilty to theft at an earlier hearing and today has been found guilty of manslaughter
- Jessie Cole (D.O.B. 17 May 2002) pleaded guilty to theft at an earlier hearing and today has been found guilty of manslaughter