One of the 22 MPs who wrote to the Attorney General last week has revealed why he and so many of his colleagues took it upon themselves to share their concerns about the custodial sentences which were handed down to the thieves responsible for PC Harper’s death.
PC Andrew Harper was killed on 15th August 2019, after he was dragged for 1.4 miles at an average speed of 42.5 mph behind a car that was being driven by career criminal, Henry Long.
PC Harper had been married for just over four weeks and had been due to go on his honeymoon the week after his horrific death.
Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jesse Cole had just carried out an armed raid on a private property and had left the scene with a £10,000 quad bike that was being towed behind a Seat Leon that was being driven by Long.
The quad bike was being steered by Cole when PC Andrew Harper and PC Andrew Shaw intercepted the thieves having responded to the call for help that was made by the owner of the quad bike.
PC Harper and PC Shaw had already worked several hours of overtime and were heading back to their station to complete their shift when the call came in.
When PC Harper and PC Shaw spotted the vehicle towing the stolen bike, PC Harper lept from the passenger seat of his police vehicle and chased after Cole who was running to try and get in the escape vehicle that was being driven by Long.
As PC Harper gave chase, his ankle became stuck in the crane strap that was being used to tow the quad bike.
It was the case of the prosecution throughout the trial that the three thieves knew that PC Harper was being dragged behind their vehicle as they tried to flee.
After PC Harper was left to die at the roadside, Long, Cole and Bowers sought refuge in a local caravan site, but it was not long before the National Police Air Service located the killers and their vehicle amongst the caravans at the Four Houses Corner travellers’ site.
The car that was used to drag PC Andrew Harper to his death
When Long was charged with the murder of PC Harper, his reply was: ‘I don’t give a f**k about any of this’.
After being found guilty of the manslaughter of PC Harper, Long was sentenced to 16 years in prison. But after various ‘discounts’ were applied to his sentence, the ‘time served’ could actually be under ten years.
Cole and Bowers, who were both sentenced to 13 years, could also be out in under eight years owing to similar discounts being applied to their sentences.
Throughout the trial, Long, Bowers and Cole showed no remorse for killing PC Harper.
As the gruesome details of PC Harper’s death were revealed to the court, the three prolific thieves smirked at each other.
They were also spotted smiling and poking their tongues out at photographers after their ‘not guilty’ murder verdicts.
The killer’s families also cheered as PC Andrew Harper’s widow, Lissie, broke down in tears.
Even after sentencing, some family members of PC Harper’s killers taunted Lissie in public posts via social media, as reported by The Sun.
A petition, calling for the the ‘miscarriage of justice’ to be overturned is nearing 400,000 signatures.
Matt Vickers, the MP for Stockton South, said in an open letter:
‘The images of Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole laughing during their trial for the killing of PC Andrew Harper truly pierced the public consciousness.
‘Their sniggering and pride in the devastation they caused has desperately angered the British people, and last week’s manslaughter verdict feels out of step with such a brutal crime.
‘On 15th August, 2019, PC Harper was called to the scene of the attempted theft of a quad bike. The three teenage boys involved sped away in their car, PC Harper became tangled and was dragged for over a mile, before dying on the road. His killers swerved time and time again, violently trying to shake him off, yet they claim they were unaware he was even stuck to the car.
‘Such a crime against one of our brave police officers must surely be met with only the strongest and toughest of sentences. Anything less beggars’ belief and flies in the face of justice.
‘It is for this reason I, alongside 22 other MPs, wrote to the Attorney General last Friday.
‘We are urging her to refer the case to the Court of Appeal and recommend that a full life-term should be served. Faith in public order is integral; for our justice system to work we must protect those who work to uphold and defend it.
‘Just take a few moments to read Lissie Harper’s open letter, published on Facebook. PC Harper’s wife’s letter is both eloquent and direct, devastated yet composed:
“I implore you to hear my words, see the facts that are laid out before us, and I ask with no expectations other than hope that you might help me to make these changes be considered, to ensure that Andrew is given the retrial that he unquestionably deserves and to see that the justice system in our country is the solid ethical foundation that it rightly should be. Not the joke that so many of us now view it to be.”
‘His innocent loved ones have been left without closure; a common-sense approach to justice is needed. Unfortunately, many would say the ultimate aim of securing a retrial is unlikely, and I would be choosing to overlook significant legal precedents if I was to say otherwise.
‘It is very rare for “not guilty” verdicts to be overturned, regardless of how intense external pressures and public demand may be. In this instance, there is a potential road to a retrial, but it is uphill and scattered with obstacles. The High Court would be able to order a retrial if one of the defendants was acquitted because of “intimidation of, or interference with, a witness or juror”.
‘From the very beginning of the trial, there were allegations of attempts by supporters of the accused to distort the trial. At one stage, the presiding judge ordered extra security measures to protect the jury, following information from the police that “an attempt is being considered by associates of the defendants to intimidate the jury”. This alone creates the space for an investigation into the conduct of the trial from the Crown Prosecution Service. It could potentially be crucial.
‘It is obvious that PC Harper was a wonderful man. He had the sense of public duty to serve, even when his shift was up and he was due to head home.
‘We must stand alongside those who run towards danger to protect us at times like this. The intuitive recognition of what is right and what is wrong is something the people of this country have at their core; it is this very spirit and hunger for justice that must now be harnessed’.
Before the verdicts were delivered, one of the female jurors was dismissed by the presiding judge after she was spotted smiling and waving at the heartless killers.
A court security officer witnessed the behaviour and immediately let the Clerk of the court know who then made the judge aware of what had happened.
Attorney General Suella Braverman will decide by 28th August if the Court of Appeal should look at the sentences again.
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PC Andrew Harper | Born 22nd March 1991 – died 15th August 2019 | #RIP
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