PC Andrew Harper jury needed police protection over fears of intimidation – and one woman was DISMISSED for WAVING and saying ‘bye boys’ as she left court four days before end of trial
- PC Andrew Harper case at Old Bailey was dogged by fears over jury nobbling
- Unidentified person in public gallery in courtroom was seen pointing at jurors
- Defence barrister dismissed it but judge ordered extra security to protect jury
- Overly friendly juror seen by prison officer mouthing ‘Bye boys’ to defendants
- Female juror discharged a day before the remaining jurors began deliberating
The PC Andrew Harper case was dogged by alleged attempts to ‘frustrate’ the investigation and fears over jury nobbling, it can now be reported.
Detectives quickly tracked down the car which dragged PC Harper to his death in Berkshire to the Four Houses Corner travellers’ site.
But the investigation was hampered by family and friends of the occupants, who were all said to have close ties to the site.
PC Andrew Harper was dragged behind a car after responding to a reported quad bike theft
Thames Valley Police Detective Superintendent Stuart Blaik said: ‘A decision was taken very early on to arrest all the males on the site that night.
‘While we were frustrated by family and friends, we have been able to work through that and establish exactly what happened and who was involved.’
Supporters of the teenagers – Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18 – had crowded into the public gallery of the Old Bailey as the case got under way in March. But no sooner had it started, Mr Justice Edis brought the trial to a halt over an alleged potential plot to intimidate jurors.
An unidentified person in the public gallery overlooking the courtroom was seen pointing at jurors.
Defence barrister Timothy Raggatt QC dismissed the incident as ‘a touch oversensitive’.
In the absence of the jury, he said: ‘In the circumstances, someone could be pointing for all sorts of reasons. Take, for example, there appear to be a lot of ladies in this court.’
Mr Justice Edis ordered extra security measures to protect the jury during the PC Harper case
But Mr Justice Edis ordered extra security measures to protect the jury. Without divulging details, he said police had received information ‘that an attempt is being considered by associates of the defendants to intimidate the jury’.
The jury was provided with a private room, and anyone entering the public gallery was asked to provide proof of their identity. A third measure was kept secret.
On the day the nation went into lockdown, the original jury was discharged.
When the case returned for retrial in June, social distancing in court was introduced to combat the risk of Covid-19 and security was further stepped up.
Jurors were referred to by number rather than their name to be sworn in. And uniformed police were out in force during a jury visit to rural Berkshire.
Thames Valley Police Detective Superintendent Stuart Blaik told how a ‘decision was taken very early on to arrest all the males on the site that night’
Officers lined the narrow country roads as the jury viewed the spot where PC Harper was killed. A police drone buzzed overhead as detectives jump-started the defendants’ battered old Seat Toledo as the jury moved on.
With the end of the retrial in sight, fears for its integrity surfaced on July 20.
An overly friendly juror was seen by a prison officer to mouth ‘Bye boys’ to the defendants in the dock.
On being alerted to the incident, Mr Justice Edis said: ‘She must have been compelled by some strong motive to have behaved as she did in this court under the observation of so many. It was both overt and covert at the time, which is remarkable behaviour.’
The female juror was discharged just a day before the remaining 11 men and women began deliberating on their verdicts.