The Attorney General, Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP, has referred the sentences of Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.
The three males were convicted of the manslaughter of PC Harper and were sentenced at the Old Bailey on 31 July.
PC Harper suffered fatal injuries when his ankles got caught in a strap trailing behind a vehicle driven by Henry Long on 15 August 2019. The brave officer was dragged for 1.4 miles at an average speed of 42.5 mph after he tried to stop the three thieves from leaving the scene of a burglary.
Balaclava-clad Long, Bowers and Cole had just carried out an armed raid on a property and left the scene with a £10,000 quad bike.
Having already worked several hours of overtime, and whilst en-route back to their police station, PC Andrew Harper and his colleague, PC Andrew Shaw, took the call for help that would result in PC Andrew Harper losing his life.
PC Harper had been married only four weeks earlier and was due to go on his honeymoon the following week.
Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment. Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment. Pictures of the trio laughing and joking following their verdicts incensed the general public. The three were seen to smile as Lissie Harper, Andrew’s wife, broke down in tears.
Before the jury was retired to consider their verdict, a female juror was dismissed by the presiding Judge after she was seen waving and smiling at the heartless killers.
Speaking about the case, the Attorney General said:
“This was a horrific crime which resulted in the death of a much-respected police officer while he was on-duty, protecting his community.
“Having personally considered the details of this shocking case, I have decided to refer the sentences of PC Andrew Harper’s killers to the Court of Appeal.
“Attacks made against emergency workers will not be tolerated and offenders should be punished with the greatest severity for such heinous crimes.”
A date for the hearing at the Court of Appeal is yet to be set.
The Unduly Lenient Scheme allows victims of crime, their families, prosecutors and the public to ask the Law Officers to review sentences for certain crimes that fall within the scheme that they believe are too low.
The Attorney General can only ask the Court of Appeal to review a sentence under the Unduly Lenient Sentencing (ULS) scheme if she considers that sentence to be unduly lenient. That means, for example, that the sentencing judge made a gross error or imposed a sentence outside the range of reasonable sentences available.
The Attorney General acts independently of government when deciding on Unduly Lenient Sentences, also known as acting as ‘guardian of the public interest’.
Andrew’s wife, Lissie Harper, has set up a campaign called ‘Harper’s Law’ in an attempt to ensure that anyone who is convicted of killing an emergency worker spends the rest of their life behind bars.
The campaign has already attracted over 365,000 signatures.
Talking about the campaign, Lissie said:
‘When emergency services workers are killed on duty, then it hits right at the heart of our democracy.
‘We ask police officers, firefighters, nurses, doctors, prison officers and paramedics to go out there and keep the Queen’s peace on behalf of society. We ask them to save people’s lives. We ask them to protect us.
‘So society must offer the greatest protection for those dedicated public servants who are killed protecting it.
‘That is what Harper’s Law would provide. An appropriate deterrent and a suitable punishment.
‘The law must be changed. We want to work with the Government, politicians of all parties and the fantastic British public on this.
‘We must protect the protectors.
‘That is why we need Harper’s Law’.
Talking about the decision of the Attorney General, Lissie added:
“This is great news and we thank the Attorney General for her swift decision.
“The sentences for Andrew’s killers did not match their heinous crime. It was not justice and it needs to be addressed. Police officers need to be properly protected by the judicial system. And there must be appropriate punishments for those who would kill police officers.
“We now await the outcome with interest and in the meantime we will continue to campaign for Harper’s Law – which is calling for those who kill emergency services workers to spend the rest of their lives in prison.
“I would also like to thank the public for their continued and unstinting support.”
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