The sentences handed down to PC Andrew Harper’s killers remain unchanged after challenges at the Court of Appeal.
Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were each given 13 years in July over the tragic and horrific death of PC Andrew Harper.
But all three sentences were ‘discounted’ due to various factors such as the age of the killers and their guilty pleas to the charges of manslaughter. They denied murdering the well respected and well liked Roads Policing Officer.
PC Harper was dragged to his death after he and his colleague, PC Andrew Shaw, responded to a 999 call made by a member of the public who reported that three armed intruders were on his property.
The two officers were on their way back to their police station when the call came in, having already worked several hours of overtime.
As PC Shaw and PC Harper rushed towards to incident, the three thieves were leaving the scene, having stolen a brand new quad bike.
A Seat Leon, being driven by Long, was being used to tow the quad bike.
When the three killers saw PC Shaw and PC Harper in their unmarked police BMW, they fled.
PC Harper exited his vehicle and ran after Cole, who was steering the stolen quad bike.
Cole jumped in the Seat Leon as PC Andrew Harper’s foot became entangled in the crane strop that was being used to tow the stolen quad bike.
PC Shaw tried desperately to catch up with the vehicle as it made off, but Long was determined to getaway. PC Harper died after being dragged for a distance of 1.4 miles at an average speed of 42.5 mph.
It had been the prosecution’s case that Long, Bowers and Cole would have known that PC Harper was being dragged to his death behind their vehicle, as they swung PC Harper around ‘like a pendulum’.
The Attorney General, Suella Braverman, argued that the sentences handed down to the men were “unduly lenient”.
During the trial, the three thieves often laughed and joked amongst themselves. One juror had to be dismissed by the presiding judge after she was caught winking at waving at the trio.
However, Dame Victoria Sharp said the court had dismissed the attorney general’s appeal against Long, Cole and Bowers’ sentences for manslaughter, as well as the trio’s own appeals against their custodial terms.
The court did reduce the sentences imposed on Cole and Bowers for conspiracy to steal, from 38 months detention to an 18-month detention and training order given their ages at the time of the offence.
Dame Victoria said:
“The effect of our decision is that all three offenders remain convicted of the manslaughter of PC Harper and the overall length of their custodial sentences remain unaltered.”
An application by Cole and Bowers for leave to appeal against their convictions for PC Harper’s manslaughter was refused as being “wholly unarguable”.
Talking about the decision, PC Harper’s widow, Lissie, said:
“Many months have passed since I sat in a cold and soulless courtroom, awaiting the fate to be given to the criminals who took my husband’s life and our future together.
“Many days I have spent fighting against an inadequate sentence and a wrong-doing that I could not accept.
“I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to the Attorney General and show my respect to her for the decisions she made regarding the undue leniency of this case.
“I know that she made the right decisions in seeking review of these sentences and regardless of the outcome I am pleased that she holds the same views as myself and so many other law-abiding citizens of this country.
“Today after so much waiting we have finally been given the outcome of these long-awaited decisions regarding these three men, their futures and whether or not justice will ultimately be served.
“Of course, no punishment, no time in prison will ever serve to make up for the theft of someone’s life, and not just someone, but an incredible person who gave without greed or expectation to his fellow man, and I will be eternally proud to call Andrew my husband.
“I miss him more as each day passes and I will continue to live my life in his honour, with respect, love and an unbreakable moral code.
“I am of course disappointed with this outcome and ultimately feel along with the Attorney General and the majority of our country that these sentences are far too lenient, that they do not reflect the severity and barbarity of the crimes they committed.
“I continue to feel let down by our justice system and the inadequate laws that we have in place.
“My husband was killed in a barbaric way that has seen the nation shocked. This single act has rocked the lives of so many people who both loved Andrew and those who have watched from afar the heart-breaking story of his death.
“To take someone’s life surely should mean to have your own freedom taken in return. Yet these criminals will see the light of day far, far earlier than they ever deserve to.
“I remain more determined than ever to do what is right and to ensure we see what should have been in place so long ago. I know now more than ever the importance and requirement for Harper’s Law, which would see those who kill our emergency services heroes receive a life jail sentence.
“I will fervently continue to fight for the safety and justice that our emergency service heroes so greatly deserve.
“No person should go to work and never return home. No person who works tirelessly and without gratitude to provide a service to our people should ever be placed in such a position that they lose their lives, and ultimately are not given the respect to even see justice prevail in their name.
“So along with a mighty team and the support of the public, I will not stop until I see change in our systems.
“I will not give up until Harper’s Law is passed through Parliament and my husband’s death goes to stand for the heroic and honourable service he gave to us all. “I hope you will all stand with me in demanding better, striving for more and ultimately giving our protectors the respect they deserve.”
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