Henry Long (the driver of the vehicle that dragged PC Harper to his death), aged 19, of College Piece, Mortimer was sentenced to 24 years in prison, discounted to 16 years.
Albert Bowers, aged 18, of Windmill Corner, Mortimer Common, Reading, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, discounted to 13 years (to spend 2/3 in custody and the balance on licence).
Jessie Cole, aged 18 of Paices Hill, Aldmeraston, Reading, was sentenced to 20 years in prison discounted to 13 years. (to spend 2/3 in custody and the balance on licence).
Before handing down the sentences, Mr Justice Edis told the trio:
“You decided that your freedom to commit crime was more important than his life.”
“You killed a talented and brave young police officer.”
PC Andrew Harper was killed in August 2019 year after he was dragged for 1.4 miles at an average speed of 42.5mph behind a car that was being driven by Henry Long.
Long, accompanied by Jesse Cole and Albert Bowers, had just carried out an armed raid on a private property before they were stopped by PC Andrew Harper and his colleague PC Andrew Shaw.
Long, Bowers and Cole
The thieves had stolen a £10,000 quad bike before towing it behind a car that was being driven by Long. Cole was steering the quad bike, and Bowers was a passenger in the vehicle.
As Cole jumped off the stolen quad bike and ran towards the vehicle that was being driven by Long, PC Andrew Harper exited his police vehicle and gave chase.
Cole jumped into the getaway car, and it sped off. The crane strap that was being used to tow the stolen quad bike got tangled up with PC Harper’s leg.
The car that was used to drag PC Harper to his death. PC Harper was dragged for a distance of 1.4 miles at an average speed of 42.5 mph.
It was the case of the prosecution that Cole, Long and Bowers knew that PC Harper was being dragged behind their vehicle.
In the run-up to today’s sentencing, and following the ‘not guilty’ verdicts for murder, but subsequent guilty verdicts for manslaughter, a petition had been set up entitled: ‘Overturn a miscarriage of justice’.
The petition attracted more than 300,000 signatures.
Before passing sentence, a prosecutor has read a victim impact statement from Deborah Adlam, PC Harper’s mother. She said:
‘I am unable to explain the enormity of what I’m feeling and have been struggling with since we were awoken on August 15 2019 at 4.45am to the worst news imaginable.
‘He died because these defendants chose to steal a quad bike.
‘My family and I feel broken – can you imagine a loved one dying with such indignity?
‘He was our first-born child and he has been ripped from me.
‘I haven’t been able to work for fear of breaking down, my mind just isn’t in the right place, my anxiety is overpowering.
‘I hardly sleep… I have no motivation or even daily routine – chores or cooking a meal, it just feels pointless now.
‘I have sat in the mortuary of my son’s covered body, too damaged for me to see.
‘He will never get to be called ‘daddy’ or hold his own child – we imagined this was not too far away in the future.
‘Andrew was such a good man, a brave, a caring person, funny and uplifting.
‘I love and miss him daily with every passing moment. He will be loved forever’.
Lissie Harper, PC Harper’s widow, broke down in tears twice as she read her victim impact statement to the court herself. Lissie said:
‘This is my third attempt at writing a victim impact statement.
‘After many words of anguish, scriptures of love and testimonies of heart break, I sit at this task with an emptiness that I without pretence admit that in an attempt to describe what impact Andrew’s death has had on me I simply find myself in a lost and endless world of numb despair.
‘Perhaps the reason that this question in particular defeats me is because until and unless you have stood in my shoes, unless you have had the immense misfortune of losing a husband or a wife, a soul mate, true love or beloved partner whom you intended to be with until your dying day, then how is this grief and loss even possible to describe?
‘I have used every word in my vocabulary to describe the pain, torture and hopelessness that I feel, I have written poems and letters and messages of love and devastation over the indescribable trauma that I have been forced to endure these past eleven months.
‘I have screamed and cried and broken down in fractured defeat and yet when it is this moment that I am asked to explain my impacted life that the hollowness of loss truly appears.
Lissie with Andrew | Credit: Thames Valley Police
‘My husband was brutally killed four weeks after our wedding day… What impact has this had on my life? Need I repeat the devastating details and the cruelty in which this occurred? Should I speak again of how we were robbed of our future? Of the plans that were stolen from us? Should I describe my torment over the children that will never come to be? Or like so many people are these heartbreaking details etched into your mind in the shattering way that they will forever remain in mine?
‘Four weeks was all I had to call him my husband, four weeks to be called his wife. My life often feels bleak, hopeless, irreparable. My desolate nights bring no rest, no time for reprieve from this utter turmoil. Every aspect of my life since Andrew was taken is bitterly different, Every moment of my life before Andrew was taken was imprinted with his love and his presence. A fact in which I alone can only truly understand.
‘So not only did these men take my true, beautiful love away from me, not only did they rob a brother, son, uncle and friend from all who love him, but they took our future too. They took more than one life away that day, They stole the person that I used to be, the happiness that we shared and the beautiful plans we had made together.
‘That night as I opened the door to the stranger in uniform before me, everything I had known in my life to be true was robbed away. Every ounce of beautiful peace, gone.
‘So in answer to the question of how Andrew’s death has impacted me…well you would be justified in your knowledge that I am without question a mere shadow of the person I once was, broken, distraught, beaten! An empty shell, void of the contented life I once loved.
‘Please do not let the sacrifice that he was forced and unknowingly made to give stand for nothing. He gave everything. A bitter reality that I must face and endure for the rest of my life, every second, every minute, every day.
‘Whatever is decided today in these courts… it will never bring Andrew back,
‘Andrew will never grace us with his smile, his compassion and his selfless generosity and love as he used to do.
‘I will spend every day of the rest of my life with a hollowness that will never ever be filled. An indescribable reality that no amount of words will ever fully reveal. Yet again I search around for the words to express my heartbreak, yet each description of grief appears inadequate and incomplete’.
Andrew’s sister, Aimee Harper, said:
‘I’m sure you already understand how utterly impossible it would be to convey the vast implications that Andrews death has had on mine and my family’s life.
‘I never imagined that in my lifetime I would have to face such raw darkness, just knowing the bare minimum of details about my brother’s death has been enough to haunt my dreams and make me constantly afraid for my family. I don’t think that it’s something I will ever recover from.
‘My already severe anxiety has worsened, I’m constantly sleep deprived and low. It affects my day to day life and at this point it is difficult to see an end to. I have some hope that if we get a ‘positive’ outcome from this court process it could help me and my family to start moving on with our lives. Of course we will never feel normal again, but maybe we will be able to start rebuilding our lives around this black hole.
‘I feel as though my foundations have been torn from beneath me. Growing up with big brothers helped me to feel protected, especially with Andrew being in the police. I have been been forced into the realisation of how much I relied on that feeling, if I was ever unsafe in a situation or physically hurt I knew that I would always have Andrew at the end of my phone.
‘As for the physical changes that I’ve had to make since last August, my whole life has completely changed. I was living alone in Greece at the time of Andrews death, I had to pack up and leave my life there to be with my family as quickly as I could. I’m writing this statement exactly one year on from the day I last saw Andrew, the day after his wedding before I flew back to Greece. I will spend my life regretting leaving home, a burden which should not be mine to carry, it should be with the evil that took him from us.
‘I have faced hell by attending court, I’ve heard and seen things that have left me physically sick. Fearing that if I didn’t attempt to understand what happened to my brother, then I could regret it in the distant years yet to come. The decisions I make now will change the course of my life and who I become, let alone the agonising decisions that are out of my hands’.
Long Bowers and Cole will not be eligible for release until they have served 2/3rds of their sentence
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PC Andrew Harper | Born 22nd March 1991 – died 15th August 2019 | #RIP
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