Before handing down his sentences, Judge Mr Justice Edis told the court that ‘manslaughter can sometimes be a case of carelessness or a serious case closer to murder’.
He said that Long, Bowers and Cole had ‘carefully planned’ the theft and that it was ‘something they did frequently’.
The trio had all been out stealing the night before they killed PC Andrew Harper and that was how they came to be in possession of the crane strap that dragged PC Harper to his death.
Mr Justice Edis said that the three thieves made a ‘habit’ of committing crime and that, in Long’s case, it was his ‘only source of income’ and that he ‘had never done an honest days work in his life’.
He added: “I reject the evidence they just happened to see [the quad bike]. I have been to the site.”
“Having chosen the target they first went to steal it in broad daylight.”
Long, Bowers and Cole had been disturbed during their first attempt at stealing the quad bike, which is why they went back under cover of darkness.
Mr Justice Edis said the loud music being played in their vehicle and the fact that they had taped over number plates was ‘conspicuous, brazen behaviour.” He said it was ‘almost a challenge to the police’.
He said: “I do not know what the plan was if Mr Wallis [the quad bike owner] had come out and confronted them.
“I do not think they would have simply run away.”
During his summing up, Mr Justice Edis rejected any claims that Long, Bowers and Cole did not look behind at what the police cars were doing as PC Harper was being dragged to his death.
He said that the marks on the road show that ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’ the driver was trying to get rid of something on the car.
“By the time they left the body on Ufton Lane, they knew what it was they had been dragging.”
As they dragged PC Harper to his death, the average speed of the car was 42.5 mph.
But from where PC Harper was found to where the car was found, the average speed of the vehicle was 52mph.
Mr Justice Edis added: “No doubt because the car was free of the [PC Harper’s weight].
“The police did try to replicate this, but their speeds were 30 seconds slower.
“I have watched videos and their speeds were terrifying.”
Before announcing the sentences, Mr Justice Edis said: “A person who kills a police officer commits a serious case of manslaughter.”
“The words you used were I think made up; Bowers and Cole did not ever plead guilty to manslaughter.
“Longs approach was made very clear by the words he chose when he was charged with murder ‘I don’t give a f***’.”
He added that Long had a ‘leading role’ in the group and there were attempts to conceal evidence.
Mr Justice Edis said:
“You killed a talented and brave young police officer.”
“You decided that your freedom to commit crime was more important than his life.”
Long was sentenced to 24 years. But his sentence was discounted owing to his age and because of his previous ‘guilty’ plea to manslaughter.
Bowers and Cole were both sentenced to 20 years, discounted to 13 years. They will spend 2/3 of that time in custody and the balance on licence.
Both were disqualified from driving for two years.
For conspiracy to steal, Long was sentenced to 24 months (concurrent), and Bowers and Cole were sentenced to 38 months (concurrent).
Thomas King was sentenced to 2 years in prison (157 days have already been served).
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Long, Bowers and Cole
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