There was fury today that PC Andrew Harper’s ‘remorseless’ teenage killers escaped life sentences, despite his tearful widow telling court: ‘Four weeks was all I had with my husband’.
Superintendent Stuart Blaik, who led the investigation, said Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers had shown ‘not an ounce of remorse’ as they were jailed for 16 years and 13 years respectively.
It means two of the three will be back on the streets in just eight years. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life with a term of 24 years.
Those following the case reacted with anger to the sentences on social media, with Sharyn Carr writing: ‘Absolutely disgusting, no justice for him, his family or his beautiful wife. Another failing by the system.’
Speaking outside court Supt Blaik said: ‘Today we have some justice for Andrew Harper and those responsible for his death are going to prison… they have not shown an ounce of remorse. These men represented self-interest, greed and utter recklessness.’
Earlier his widow Lissie Harper, 28, broke down twice as she revealed how she had ‘screamed and cried every day’ since losing her husband just four weeks into their marriage.
She told the court: ‘Four weeks was all I had with my husband – four weeks to be called his wife. My life often feels bleak, hopeless, irreparable. Every aspect of my life since Andrew was taken is bitterly different.’
Mrs Harper had previously slammed the jury’s ‘utterly shocking and appalling’ decision to clear her husband’s killers of murder over his death on August 15 last year.
She was joined in court today by his mother Deborah Adlam and her husband, Phil. In her own impact statement read by a lawyer, Mrs Adlam said: ‘He was our first-born child and he has been ripped from me.’
PC Harper, 28, had tried to stop the three thieves from stealing a quad bike in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, but his ankles were lassoed by a trailing loading strap from their car as the teenagers tried to escape. He was towed helplessly for over a mile behind the Seat Toledo as it reached speeds of 60mph.
Today, Mr Justice Edis described the killers as ‘young, unintelligent but professional criminals’ and rejected claims by defence barristers’ that the trio had showed any remorse. Long glanced up briefly to members of his family in the public gallery as he was sentenced. Cole kept his head bowed while Bowers appeared shocked.
Describing the gravity of their crimes, the judge said: ‘Manslaughter cases range greatly in seriousness. Sometimes death may be caused by an act of gross carelessness, sometimes it is very close to a case of murder in its seriousness. That is so, here.’
Earlier today, the judge took the unusual step of addressing ‘controversy’ over the jury’s decision to find three teenagers not-guilty of murder, amid concerns they were being subject to ‘improper pressure’.
He said that ‘to the best of my knowledge’ there was ‘no truth’ to the claims. It came after Mrs Harper called on the Government to order an unlikely retrial in the hope of getting a murder conviction based on ‘suspected jury interference’.
PC Harper died after trying to stop the three thieves from stealing a quad bike in Sulhamstead, Berkshire. Lissie, his widow, is pictured leaving the Old Bailey today (right). She is also seen with PC Harper celebrating their wedding at Ardington House in Oxfordshire in the summer of 2019
Mrs Harper did not comment as she left the Old Bailey today. She earlier slammed the jury’s decision to clear her husband’s killers of murder and called for a retrial
PC Harper’s mother, Deborah Adlam, arriving at the Old Bailey today for the sentencing. She was accompanied by her husband, Phil
Police mugshots of (left to right), driver Henry Long, 19, and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18
Superintendent Stuart Blaik, who led the investigation, said Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers told the media outside court that the killers had shown ‘not an ounce of remorse’ as they were jailed for 16 years and 13 years respectively
Those following the case reacted with anger to the sentences on social media, with Sharyn Carr writing: ‘Absolutely disgusting, no justice for him, his family or his beautiful wife. Another failing by the system’
Judge’s sentencing remarks: How getaway driver could have 24 years
The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 24 years, according to the sentencing guidelines.
The judge told getaway driver Henry Long, 19, that he would have received this sentence if he was ‘a few years older’ but it had been discounted because of his age, and due to his guilty plea. He will now serve 10 years and 8 months before being considered for release.
Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were ‘not ringleaders’, the judge said, so the starting point for their sentences was 20 years. This was reduced to 13 due to their age and because they both have learning difficulties. This means they could be released in eight years.
Below is a summary of the sentencing remarks released by Mr Justice Edis.
Henry Long, I have decided that although this is an extremely serious offence I can deal with it by means of an extended determinate sentence of detention because of your age.
A man only a few years older than you would have received a life sentence. It does mean that you are entitled to release at the end of the custodial term. At your age that seems to me to be an important benefit. This is the principal way in which I address the fact of your age, and the discount in relation to the custodial term will be modest.
The custodial term will be based on a starting point of 24 years discounted for your age, and then for your plea to 16 years. You will serve 10 years and 8 months of that before you can be considered for release. You will be entitled to release after 16 years. The extended licence period will be 3 years.
Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, you are both somewhat younger and you were not ringleaders. You also suffer from learning difficulties which make you more likely to follow the lead of someone who is more capable than you are. In your cases I do not make a finding of dangerousness and will deal with this case by means of determinate sentences of detention in a young offender institution. I have decided to deal with you equally, because the real determining factor of this sentence is what you did and the harm you caused.
The starting point is 20 years, this is reduced on account of your ages and immaturity to a term of 13 years in each case. You will serve two thirds of that in custody and the balance on licence.
In the case of Long there will be a concurrent term of 32 months detention for the offence of conspiracy to steal. In the cases of Bowers and Cole the term for that offence will be 38 months imprisonment because their pleas were later.
Speaking outside the court after sentencing, Detective Superintendent Stuart Blaik addressed the controversy which has accompanied the verdicts of not-guilty in relation to the murder counts.
He said: ‘I am aware there has been much discussion amongst the media and the public about those verdicts, but today I welcome the judge’s sentencing remarks.
‘These were fully reflective of the seriousness of this offence and their culpability.’
He added: ‘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.’
In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Edis said his role was to impose a sentence that reflected ‘the seriousness of this case and protects the public’.
He said: ‘Nothing which I can do, or could have done, if there had been a conviction for murder, can restore Andrew Harper to his loving wife and family or to the public he served so well.
‘His devastating loss in these terrible circumstances will follow his family forever.’
Mr Justice Edis said the defendants killed ‘a talented and brave young police officer’ and said he ‘rejected’ the suggestion that the defendants showed remorse for their actions.
Justice Edis said: ‘In better language, you killed a talented and brave young police officer who was going above and beyond his duty in order to provide a public service.
‘You did so because you have deliberately decided to expose any police officer that got in your way to a risk of death.’
The judge said none of the defendants had ‘any real education’, and said they had been ‘taken out of school far too young’.
The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 24 years, according to the sentencing guidelines.
The judge told getaway driver Henry Long, 19, that he would have received this sentence if he was ‘a few years older’ but it had been discounted because of his age, and due to his guilty plea.
He will now serve 10 years and 8 months before being considered for release.
Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were ‘not ringleaders’, the judge said, so the starting point for their sentences was 20 years.
This was reduced to 13 due to their age and because they both have learning difficulties. This means they could be released in eight years.
Henry Long glanced up briefly to members of his family in the public gallery as he was sentenced. Jessie Cole kept his head bowed. Albert Bowers appeared shocked as the sentences were returned.
Some supporters of the defendants wept and gasped as the judge announced his decision. Lissie Harper’s mother, Julie Beckett, applauded at the conclusion of the hearing.
A fourth defendant, Thomas King, 21, from Basingstoke, had admitted conspiracy to steal a quad bike and was sentenced to two years in prison today. He was not directly involved in the incident which led to PC Harper’s death.
Albert Bowers (left) and Jessie Cole (centre) laughing as they leave Reading Magistrates’ Court on September 19, 2019. A fourth defendant, Thomas King, 21, from Basingstoke, admitted conspiracy to steal a quad bike. He was sentenced to two years today (when he is pictured outside the Old Bailey). He was not directly involved in the incident which led to PC Harper’s death
‘Four weeks was all I had’: Widow’s heartbreaking victim impact statement to the Old Bailey
This is my third attempt at writing a victim impact statement. After many words of anguish, scriptures of love and testimonies of heart break, I sit at this task with an emptiness that I without pretence admit that in an attempt to describe what impact Andrew’s death has had on me I simply find myself in a lost and endless world of numb despair.
Perhaps the reason that this question in particular defeats me is because until and unless you have stood in my shoes, unless you have had the immense misfortune of losing a husband or a wife, a soul mate, true love or beloved partner whom you intended to be with until your dying day, then how is this grief and loss even possible to describe?
I have used every word in my vocabulary to describe the pain, torture and hopelessness that I feel, I have written poems and letters and messages of love and devastation over the indescribable trauma that I have been forced to endure these past 11 months.
I have screamed and cried and broken down in fractured defeat and yet when it is this moment that I am asked to explain my impacted life that the hollowness of loss truly appears.
My husband was brutally killed four weeks after our wedding day… What impact has this had on my life? Need I repeat the devastating details and the cruelty in which this occurred? Should I speak again of how we were robbed of our future? Of the plans that were stolen from us? Should I describe my torment over the children that will never come to be? Or like so many people are these heartbreaking details etched into your mind in the shattering way that they will forever remain in mine?
Four weeks was all I had to call him my husband, four weeks to be called his wife. My life often feels bleak, hopeless, irreparable. My desolate nights bring no rest, no time for reprieve from this utter turmoil.
Every aspect of my life since Andrew was taken is bitterly different. Every moment of my life before Andrew was taken was imprinted with his love and his presence. A fact in which I alone can only truly understand.
So not only did these men take my true, beautiful love away from me, not only did they rob a brother, son, uncle and friend from all who love him, but they took our future too. They took more than one life away that day.
They stole the person that I used to be, the happiness that we shared and the beautiful plans we had made together. That night as I opened the door to the stranger in uniform before me, everything I had known in my life to be true was robbed away.
Every ounce of beautiful peace, gone. So in answer to the question of how Andrew’s death has impacted me… well you would be justified in your knowledge that I am without question a mere shadow of the person I once was, broken, distraught, beaten.
An empty shell, void of the contented life I once loved. Please do not let the sacrifice that he was forced and unknowingly made to give stand for nothing. He gave everything. A bitter reality that I must face and endure for the rest of my life, every second, every minute, every day.
Whatever is decided today in these courts… it will never bring Andrew back. Andrew will never grace us with his smile, his compassion and his selfless generosity and love as he used to do.
I will spend every day of the rest of my life with a hollowness that will never ever be filled. An indescribable reality that no amount of words will ever fully reveal.
Yet again I search around for the words to express my heartbreak, yet each description of grief appears inadequate and incomplete.
The court heard a second victim impact statement, from the officer’s mother Deborah Adlam.
She said: ‘I am unable to explain the enormity of what I’m feeling and have been struggling with since we were awoken on August 15 2019 at 4.45am to the worst news imaginable.
‘He died because these defendants chose to steal a quad bike. My family and I feel broken – can you imagine a loved one dying with such indignity?’
Mrs Adlam added in her victim impact statement read to the court about the death of her son PC Harper: ‘He was our first-born child and he has been ripped from me.
‘I haven’t been able to work for fear of breaking down, my mind just isn’t in the right place, my anxiety is overpowering.
‘I hardly sleep… I have no motivation or even daily routine – chores or cooking a meal, it just feels pointless now.
‘I have sat in the mortuary of my son’s covered body, too damaged for me to see. He will never get to be called ‘daddy’ or hold his own child – we imagined this was not too far away in the future.
‘Andrew was such a good man, a brave, a caring person, funny and uplifting. I love and miss him daily with every passing moment. He will be loved forever.’
PC Harper’s sister Aimee also addressed the Old Bailey, saying: I’m sure you already understand how utterly impossible it would be to convey the vast implications that Andrew’s death has had on mine and my family’s life.
‘I never imagined that in my lifetime I would have to face such raw darkness, just knowing the bare minimum of details about my brother’s death has been enough to haunt my dreams and make me constantly afraid for my family.
‘I don’t think that’s something I will ever recover from. My already severe anxiety has worsened, I’m constantly sleep deprived and low. It affects my day-to-day life and at this point it is difficult to see an end to.’
Judge Edis called the family’s statements ‘very moving’.
Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers celebrated after they were declared not guilty of murder last Friday, while Bowers and Cole were seen laughing while leaving Reading Magistrates’ Court during an earlier hearing in 2019.
But today, Long’s defence barrister, Rossano Scamardella QC, insisted her client had ‘accepted responsibility’ for his role in the officer’s death.
Mr Scamardella told the Old Bailey it had been reported in the press that all of the defendants were ‘badly behaved’ during the trial.
He said: ‘Henry Long, we do not agree behaved badly during the trial.
‘What we do remember from the trial is Henry Long’s remorse about what he felt. We suggest his remorse is genuine.’
At the start of today’s hearing, Mr Justice Edis addressed the court about claims the jury had been intimidated during the trial.
He said: ‘These verdicts have caused some controversy.
‘I have deliberately avoided reading or viewing reports of the case and comment on it, because I have a duty to do justice in accordance with the law and the evidence which I have heard.
‘However, I have been made aware that there has been some discussion about the trial and, in particular, the measures which were in place for the protection of the jury.
‘It may be believed in some quarters that the jury was subject to some improper pressure. To the best of my knowledge and belief there is no truth in that at all.’
None of the Harper family commented outside court today.
Meanwhile, the senior policeman who led the investigation into PC Harper’s death said it highlighted the constant risks and dangers that officers face while on duty, the case’s senior investigating officer has said.
The Seat Toledo with tow rope and the police car in a similar position at the site of the meeting of the vehicles during the Old Bailey jury site visit to the scene in Sulhamstead on July 1
Mrs Adlam said she was ‘utterly and bitterly disgusted with the outcome’, which she said had ‘let down’ PC Harper
Detective Superintendent Stuart Blaik, of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit, said a review of risk management around similar incidents would be undertaken following the ‘catastrophic’ event.
‘What (the incident) has done is highlighted the dangers that police officers face up and down the country,’ he said.
‘Our case has never been that these three, Long, Bowers and Cole, had set out that night to seriously injure or kill a police officer.
‘Rest in peace Andrew, please visit if you can’: PC Harper’s mother Deborah Adlam pays tribute to her ‘blue eyed, rosy cheeked’ son
I’m Mum to PC Andrew Harper. My blue eyed rosy cheeked, funny and wonderful first born son. You have no idea how glad I am the trial has now finished. The results are what they are, and now we have to try and live the rest of our lives without Andrew and instead with a huge heavy weight in our broken hearts.
I’m unable to explain the enormity of what I am feeling and struggling with since we were woken on 16th August 2019 with a knock on the door, 4.45am. Andrew was gone. Killed in the line of duty. Trying to accept this is a daily struggle and we have barely begun.’The detail since then has been utterly dreadful and I do not think we will ever come to terms with it.
My fit healthy happy brilliant son died purely because these boys chose to steal a quad bike. I personally have not seen, heard or felt a glimmer of any remorse. In fact, we have seen the opposite, with Long, Bowers and Cole repeatedly laughing and showing a complete lack of respect during the court proceedings.
My family and I feel broken – can you imagine any of your loved ones suffering such a terrible end and with such indignity? The pain we now live with is endless, Andrew was literally ripped from our family while we slept.
I often just wander round my house, not knowing what to do with myself – because I cannot do anything that helps. I have not been able to work for fear of breaking down. I hardly sleep, waking every hour or so every night, I have no motivation for even daily routine chores such as cooking a meal. It just all feels pointless. This is my new normal, my reality and I desperately fear losing my other son or my step-daughter. I’m told this is a natural reaction.
All the excitement for Andrew’s future has been taken so cruelly away. He will never get to be called Daddy, and hold his own child, and we’d imagined there was a good chance that was not too far away in the future. Andrew has always loved children, since a young boy we have many photos with his big toothy grin, lovingly holding a baby niece or nephew.
Andrew’s brother is trying to continue with his life in a way that he knows Andrew would want for him. They were best friends as well as brothers. They would holiday together and spend many hours bouncing off each other with laughter whether on the Xbox or rollerblading, and play fighting was always lively especially when they reached their twenties and it continued! My 6ft 5ins giants hitting each other hard while roaring with laughter! They just loved it. And I loved listening to them.
I had to wake his brother that morning on the 16th August and tell him his brother was gone. Andrew’s younger step-sister has spent the last few months looking out for me despite losing her big brother. She looked up to him and adored him as did Andrew’s whole family including grandparents and Andrew’s step-dad among others. We will all now have to live with what has happened. This has caused a ripple effect which has had such a huge impact on so many of Andrew’s family members and friends.
Andrew was such a good man. A brave and caring person, so funny and uplifting, whose actions have positively impacted many lives. I love and miss him dearly, daily and with every passing moment. The only thing I know for sure, is no matter what, Andrew will remain our pride and joy and will be loved forever. My heart may be broken but you will always be in the centre of it.
I would like to thank the QC’s and Thames Valley Police force for the hard and endless hours of work to bring the case to court. It has been so difficult for many of you knowing what you do about what happened. I also say thank you to our Family Liaison Officers for helping me through some of the darkest days I have ever experienced. I don’t know how I would still be here without you.
My tribute also is to all decent and brave serving officers who live their lives protecting others. In these challenging times for the Police, each of you belong to someone and I hope they get to keep you safe and sound. I am so proud of you all.
To each of the officers and paramedics, and all who looked after Andrew in his last few moments and the days that followed. I thank you so much. You were there when he needed you the most and you were there for him. I hope you find peace and comfort in knowing this.
Thank you as well to all the members of the public who have offered so much support and who continue to do so. I am so grateful that so many people have thought about Andrew and have taken the time to pay their respects to him. I have taken such a lot of comfort from this.
Rest In Eternal Peace Andrew – please visit if you can Mum x.
‘But it’s their criminality that has brought them and the police together.
‘We accept that policing is a risky business and there are always risks involved in confronting criminality, but this should never have happened.
‘Of course we are very sad by the events and we are going to review risk management around incidents like this.’
The verdicts declaring Long, Cole and Bowers not guilty of murder last Friday were met with anguish from the victim’s widow, who said she was ‘utterly shocked and appalled’ at the decision not to convict the teenagers of murder.
She added: ‘I now have my own life sentence to bear and believe me when I say it will be a lot more painful, soul destroying and painful journey than anyone facing a meagre number of years in prison will experience.’
Lissie Harper then called on the Government to intervene, despite a retrial being both extremely unusual and unlikely.
In an open letter posted on her Facebook page on Tuesday evening, Mrs Harper wrote to Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and former Labour Home Secretary Lord (David) Blunkett urging them and others ‘to right such a despicable wrong for our country’.
She wrote: ‘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.’
Mrs Harper’s anger was shared by the policeman’s mother, Debbie Adlam, who wrote: ‘Andrew James Harper is my son. I am disgusted that he has been let down.
‘When they crossed the junction on A4 there’s no way they did not know he was there being thrown against the pavements.
‘Utterly and bitterly disgusted with the outcome. Andrew went to work to serve us all. And this is how he was repaid.’
Despite Mrs Harper’s plea, the Prime Minister does not the power to order retrials. Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the Director of Public Prosecutions would have to consent to an investigation being reopened, and this would have to include ‘new and compelling’ evidence that was not available for the original prosecution.
Responding to Mrs Harper’s letter, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister’s thoughts are with the family and friends of PC Harper and they have his every sympathy for their loss.
‘The bravery which PC Harper showed in intercepting those criminals is a reminder of the risks our police officers face every day to keep us safe.
‘His courage, dedication and professionalism represents the very best of our police – and of all of us. The Prime Minister will respond to Mrs Harper’s letter formally once legal proceedings have concluded.’
Responding to the sentencing today, Jaswant Kaur Narwal, chief Crown prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern, said: ‘Our deepest sympathies remain with Pc Harper’s family who we know are unhappy with the verdict.
‘The jury can only convict if they are certain beyond reasonable doubt, having heard all the evidence, and we respect their decision.
‘Long, Bowers and Cole’s criminal actions resulted in the needless death of a brave, young man who was killed in the line of duty, and they will spend a total of 42 years in prison for that.’
It is almost exactly a year since PC Harper and his colleague PC Andrew Shaw responded to a report of a stolen quad bike from a property in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, on the night of August 15 2019. It was four hours after his shift was due to finish, though the pair were in the area so wanted to help.
They soon came nose-to-nose with the thieves towing the £10,000 Honda quadbike in Admoor Lane, prompting PC Harper to get out of the police car and chase Cole, who had unhooked the rope between the Seat Toledo getaway vehicle and the stolen Honda.
Cole dived into the Seat, past PC Harper’s grasp, prompting Long to make off at speeds of 42.5mph, carrying the stricken policeman behind for 91 seconds.
His uniform was stripped away and he was found by colleagues unconscious and barely alive in Ufton Lane near the A4 moments later.
Despite attempts to save him, he died at the scene.
The getaway vehicle was later tracked to the nearby Four Houses Corner caravan site.
Following his arrest, Long – who later admitted manslaughter – concocted a false alibi that he had been watching the racing film Fast And Furious at the time.
But an examination of mobile phone data eventually placed all the defendants – members of the travelling community – in the Seat.
Their defence claimed the incident was a ‘freak event’ that none of them could have planned or foreseen.
But the prosecution said at more than 6ft and weighing 14 stone, the defendants must have been aware PC Harper was being dragged to his death.
A fourth defendant, Thomas King, 21, from Basingstoke, had admitted conspiracy to steal a quad bike and was sentenced to two years in prison today. He was not directly involved in the incident which led to PC Harper’s death.
The ‘gentle giant country boy who loved his food’: How newlywed PC Andrew Harper was dragged to death four hours after his shift was meant to end because of his determination to help and protect the public
Mark Duell for MailOnline
He was ‘the gentle giant with a heart of gold’.
The ‘country boy’ who loved his food.
The newlywed police officer who died in the line of duty – more than four hours after his shift was due to finish – because he had a hardwired determination to help and protect.
Andrew Harper and his childhood sweetheart Lissie should have been spending the end of summer 2019 on honeymoon in the Maldives.
Andrew Harper and Lissie should have been spending the end of summer 2019 on honeymoon in the Maldives
Instead, the new Mrs Harper was left facing the rest of her life without her partner of 13 years, after he was killed while responding to an emergency call on August 15 – four weeks after the pair tied the knot.
Andrew Harper was born on March 22 1991, to parents Philip and Debbie, and grew up in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, a big brother to siblings Sean and Aimee.
He joined Thames Valley Police as a 19-year-old in 2010, first as a special constable and then as a full-time regular officer the following year.
He was more than 6ft tall, weighed 14 stone, and had size 14 feet.
But his kind and selfless demeanour saw him described by his wife at his funeral service as ‘a gentle giant with a heart of gold’.
‘Our superman, our bodyguard, our light in the dark,’ Mrs Harper said in a tribute to her husband days after his death.
‘My God, we will miss you. Forever you will be remembered as the best of us.’
Lissie Harper posted a message on Facebook six days ago, which was one year on from her wedding to PC Harper. In it, she said: ‘I am alone in utter disbelief’
Together, the couple enjoyed spending time outdoors, going on long walks and bike rides, and exploring new places.
At the time of his death, PC Harper was raising money for children with cancer, setting an initial sponsorship target of £500 for his participation in a 20-mile obstacle course.
Mrs Harper was left facing the rest of her life without her partner of 13 years, after he was killed on August 15 last year
Within weeks of his death, the total exceeded £300,000.
Colleagues recalled PC Harper’s love of food, infectious smile and sense of humour.
His colleague, Pc Jordan Johnstone, told mourners at the 28-year-old’s funeral: ‘I remember Harps’ first day … He arrived in the office with a clean white hat, shiny boots and an incredible range of Tupperware.
‘We laughed, we joked and we never stopped smiling.’
But there was a serious side to PC Harper, demonstrated by him and his colleague deciding to respond to reports of a burglary in Bradfield Southend in Berkshire at 11.17pm on August 15 2019.
Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told jurors that ‘despite it being well beyond the end of their shift, and because they were close and thought they could help’, the duo offered to attend the scene.
Mr Laidlaw described it as ‘going beyond the call of duty’.
It was to be PC Harper’s final case.
The depth of hurt caused by PC Harper’s death reverberated across Thames Valley Police, with officers forming an almost guard of honour as members of the jury visited the crime scene.
And so raw was the emotion for the family that jurors were not told about PC Harper’s status as a newlywed in case the weight of a widow’s grief was detrimental to the defendants.
Instead, members of PC Harper’s family watched on as three teenagers described their respective involvements in the death.
Hare-coursing, attacking homes with fireworks and thievery: How illiterate cop-killing travellers brazenly documented their law-breaking on Facebook
By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Henry Long, 19, and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, are facing years in jail for manslaughter over the death of PC Andrew Harper.
Newlywed PC Harper, 28, became entangled in a tow rope attached to their Seat Toledo as he tried to apprehend them in Berkshire last August.
The teenagers admitted plotting the theft and Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter but each denied knowing that PC Harper was there.
All three were cleared of murder by an Old Bailey jury today which had deliberated for more than 12 hours, but Cole and Bowers were found guilty of manslaughter.
Here is a profile on each the killers, revealing how they documented their law-breaking in Facebook posts of hare-coursing and attacking homes with fireworks:
HENRY LONG (driver)
Fast and Furious loving driver: Illiterate hell-raiser, 19, with string of juvenile offences for violence and drunken disorder
Henry Long, 19, was taken out of school by his father after he got into trouble with teachers
Unable to read or write, Henry Long, 19, was taken out of school by his father after he got into trouble with teachers.
Aged 12 he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and began thieving, he told the jury.
Specialising in stealing quad-bikes and machinery, Long carried with him tools for breaking into sheds, and snapping metal chains and padlocks.
The career thief first spotted the quad-bike and drove the getaway car which dragged PC Andrew Harper to his death. He had a reputation among travellers as a good driver able to steer vehicles at break-neck speeds.
With the help of Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, he disguised his Seat Toledo by disabling the rear lights, covering the number plates with tape and removing any logos. Long was the ringleader, telling Bowers and Cole to ‘shut up’ and ‘turn the music up’ as he drove.
In cross examination Long came ‘perilously close’ to admitting he was enjoying the chase as it went on knowing PC Harper was being dragged behind him.
He tried to convince jurors that, had he known the officer was behind him, he would have stopped and tried to save him.
Specialising in stealing quad-bikes and machinery, Long (pictured in September 2019) carried with him tools for breaking into sheds, and snapping metal chains and padlocks
While sat in the dock he laughed with Bowers and Cole as details of the horrific death were read out which reduced PC Harper’s widow to tears. At first he told the police: ‘I do not give a f*** about any of this’ when they arrested him for murder.
He lied and claimed he was watching Fast and Furious all night. But police managed to trace his mobile phone to the scene forcing him to change his story.
Throughout the trial he argued he could not hear or feel anything behind the car. Long has four convictions for five offences, all as a juvenile. He is convicted of two charges of battery, two counts of being drunk and disorderly and a further two offences of shop lifting.
ALBERT BOWERS (passenger)
Accomplice with passion for blood-sport: Racist thug, 18, who posed with dead hares on Facebook and fell asleep during trial
Albert Bowers, 18, fell asleep in the trial when the prosecution were show footage of the officer being dragged to his death
Albert Bowers, 18, has a keen interest in the blood sport hare coursing.
Photographs from his Facebook account show the teenager holding pictures up of dead hares killed by his sighthound.
He had turned to waiting photographers and started to laugh following one of his first appearances at Reading Magistrates’ Court after the killing.
Even when PC Harper’s body was described as being like a ‘dear carcass’ Bowers, Long and Cole continued smirking in the dock.
His attention span lasted only 40 minutes and at one stage he fell asleep in the trial when the prosecution were show footage of the officer being dragged to his death.
In evidence he said he could not read or write and had to be supported by an intermediary. He left school in year six and occasionally worked as a landscape gardener while supporting himself by stealing.
Jurors heard he and Long were close friends who often went out together looking for property to take. They both knew the nearby roads well and used this knowledge of the terrain to try and evade the police.
Bowers has three convictions for five offences while a juvenile.
He has been convicted of one count of criminal damage, one charge of sexual assault by touching, one offence of possessing an offensive weapon, one conviction for battery and one for a racially aggravated public order offence.
JESSIE COLE (passenger)
Tree-cutter, 18, who left school only able to spell his own name needed help from intermediary while he gave evidence at trial
Jessie Cole, 18, cannot read or write and left school aged 14
Jessie Cole, 18, claimed he had only recently met Bowers and Long.
He claimed he went out thieving with them and not on his own because he was scared.
Like the other two he cannot read or write and left school aged 14. He attended a college for boys with learning difficulties and by the time he dropped out he could just spell his name.
Since then he worked with his father as a tree-cutter in Reading, Basingstoke and the Isle of Wight earning up to £70 a day. In the weeks before the killing he worked with his father on the island before returning to live with his mother.
His parents had separated when he was 18-months-old. Cole said he was closer to his mother than his father. As with Bowers he was helped by an intermediary as he gave evidence.
Cole claimed he did not see PC Harper chasing him but dash-cam footage from the pursuing police car shows him turning towards the officer before he jumped through the Toledo window. He has no previous convictions.