Four men sentenced over death of Thames Valley Police constable Andrew Harper

Four men have been sentenced following the death of Thames Valley Police constable Andrew Harper.

Friday, 31st July 2020, 2:51 pm
Updated Friday, 31st July 2020, 2:53 pm
Albert Bowers

PC Andrew Harper was killed after responding to a reported burglary in progress in West Berkshire, shortly before 11.30pm on Thursday, 15 August last year.

Henry Long, aged 19, of College Piece, Mortimer, Albert Bowers, aged 18, of Windmill Corner, Mortimer Common, and Jessie Cole, aged 18, of Paices Hill Travellers Site, Aldermaston, were all convicted of PC Harper’s manslaughter last Friday (24/7) at the Old Bailey following a four week trial. All three were acquitted of murder.

They had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quadbike. Long had already pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

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Henry Long

Today (31/7), Long was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment, while Bowers and Cole were each jailed for 13 years at the same court.

Thomas King, aged 21, of Strawberry Fields, Bramley in Hampshire, had also admitted conspiracy to steal a quadbike before the trial, and was sentenced to two years imprisonment. King was not directly involved in the incident that led to PC Harper’s death.

PC Harper, who was aged 28, and his crewmate PC Andrew Shaw were in an unmarked police car on the M4 on Thursday 15 August, when they received a report of a burglary in progress at a property in nearby Standford Dingley.

After responding to the report, PC’s Harper and Shaw encountered Long, Bowers and Cole in a Seat Toledo on Admoor Lane, an unlit single track road just off the A4 at around 11.28pm.

Jessie Cole

Long was driving the Seat, with Bowers in the passenger seat, and Cole sat on a quadbike behind the car, being towed along using a crane strap.

Following a brief stand off as both cars faced each other, Cole unhitched the crane strap from the quadbike, which left it tied to the open boot of the car, and trailing on the ground behind.

Cole got off the quadbike and ran along the driver’s side of the unmarked police car, then entered the Seat through the passenger window. Simultaneously, PC Harper exited the police vehicle and tried to apprehend Cole.

PC Harper then inadvertently stepped into the trailing loop of the crane strap. At the same time, Long accelerated the car with PC Harper’s feet becoming trapped.

Thomas King

The Seat was driven away, dragging PC Harper behind along the country lane for over a mile, driving at an average speed of more than 40mph.

PC Harper eventually became detached from the crane strap just after reaching the A4, but had sustained catastrophic injuries that were not survivable. He tragically died at the scene.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Stuart Blaik, of Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit, said: “Today, Long, Bowers and Cole have been sentenced for the manslaughter of our colleague PC Andrew Harper.

“They are now facing prison sentences. I hope they use the time to reflect on the fact that their selfish, reckless actions on Thursday 15 August last year led to the tragic death of PC Harper, and have caused so much misery to so many people.

“I do not believe that Cole, Bowers or Long have ever shown a single ounce of genuine remorse throughout this process. They did everything they could to frustrate our investigation, repeatedly telling lies and attempting to hide evidence. It is thanks to the work of so many dedicated officers and staff that their lies were exposed and that they have all been convicted of manslaughter.

“On 15 August last year, we lost a brave, young and dedicated police officer, who was killed simply doing his job.

“PC Harper, along with his colleague PC Shaw, were responding to the reported burglary four hours after they should have ended their shift.

“This selfless decision was in direct contrast to the actions of Long, Bowers and Cole, who put the theft of a quadbike above the safety of others.

“No matter the convictions, or sentences handed down, there was never going to be a sense of victory. No jail sentence could ever repair the agony felt by the family, colleagues and friends of Andrew.

“We often talk about the end of legal proceedings bringing closure for a victim’s loved ones. I know that can never be the case for Andrew’s family.

“I would like to reiterate my thanks on behalf of Thames Valley Police, and the wider policing family, for the dedicated and passionate service that Andrew provided to protect the public.

“Andrew’s family have acted with great dignity and courage throughout the process of the investigation, and court trial. Their strength throughout these unimaginable circumstances has been inspiring to us all.

“Today marks the end of the trial and of an ordeal which began on August 15th last year, but I know that for so many people the grieving will continue. We will always remember PC Andrew Harper and we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice he made when protecting the public from these selfish and reckless criminals.”