A court has heard how the three men accused of murdering PC Andrew Harper were attempting to escape “at all costs” as the brave Thames Valley Police officer was dragged to his death behind their getaway car.
Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole fled from the scene of a late-night burglary after they tried to steal a £10,000 quad bike in Berkshire.
The prosecution told the court that newlywed PC Andrew Harper got caught in a strap that was attached to a Seat Toledo that was being driven by Long.
The thieves had disconnected the lights at the back of the Seat before heading out on their burglary attempt, but the property owner spotted the balaclava-clad men as they stole his new quad bike.
PC Harper, along with his colleague, had already worked several hours of overtime when the call came out only minutes before they were due to arrive back at their police station before booking off from duty for the night.
The prosecution said that the moment when PC Harper got caught in the strap being towed by the getaway car was a: “tragedy entirely of these young men’s making.”
The court previously heard that PC Harper had died in “truly shocking circumstances” when his ankles got caught by the strap that was being used to tow the stolen quad bike from a house in Stanford Dingley on 15th August 2019.
PC Harper was dragged for more than a mile at an average speed of 42.5 mph.
When his colleagues found him, they did all that they could to save his life. But he died at the roadside.
Left to right: Long, Bowers and Cole
In his closing speech, Jonathan Laidlaw QC said:
“All three of these close friends knew perfectly well that if the police sought to intervene, they would drive as fast as it was possible to get away.
“Escape literally at all costs. Driving that would give rise to great risks and driving at a pace which on any view killed Andrew Harper.”
He said while they did not set out to ensnare PC Harper, there were “clear efforts” to throw him free once he became tangled.
Mr Laidlaw QC also claimed there were “deliberate and cynical attempts” to frustrate the complex police investigation.
They had “absolutely no understanding of the damage” they had caused when later charged, Mr Laidlaw told jurors.
He added: “They simply do not recognise the extent of the grief and loss Andrew Harper’s family have to confront, for which there would be, for them, no respite.
“Their sense of misfortune bears no comparison to just how unfortunate Andrew Harper was… they are not the unlucky victims of this case at all.
“They had two clear choices moments after Andrew Harper was caught up in the strapping, and it is a binary choice.
“They were dragging a heavy object – what else could it have been but the police officer they had seen at the back of the Seat having almost caught Jessie Cole?
“To stop would have been the clearest indication that they intended him no harm, but evidently to drive on at such speed and then to seek to throw the officer free is an equally clear indication there was an intention in all three to kill him.”
On the evening of the incident, the three accused had tried to hide in the Four Houses Corner travellers site.
But the National Police Air Service managed to locate the Seat Toledo used by the trio before finding the three accused, who were stood next to the vehicle.
When officers arrested Long, his reply was: “I don’t give a f**k about any of this“.
The vehicle that dragged PC Harper to his death
Long, 19, from Mortimer, Reading, has admitted manslaughter.
Along with Albert Bowers, of Moat Close, Bramley, and Jessie Cole, of Paices Hill near Reading, both 18, he also admits conspiring to steal the bike.
The trial continues.
As the trial of the three men accused of the murder of PC Andrew Harper comes to an end, Emergency Services News will break the verdict of the jury as soon as it is delivered.
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PC Andrew Harper | Born 22nd March 1991 – died 15th August 2019 | #RIP
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