Teenage driver, 19, who dragged PC Andrew Harper to his death is found not guilty of murder after admitting manslaughter – as his two passengers are also cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter
- Henry Long, 19, had previously admitted manslaughter but denied murder
- Passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, also cleared of murder
- But they were found guilty of manslaughter at Old Bailey in London today
- PC Harper was killed after suffering horrific injuries last August in Berkshire
A furious driver who threatened to ‘ram’ the police was today cleared of murdering a brave officer who was killed as he tried to catch him and his thieving accomplices.
But Henry Long, 19, and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, who were determined to escape ‘at all costs’ after stealing a quad bike in Berkshire, are facing years in jail for manslaughter.
And it can now be reported that the jury were given special protection because police believed associates of the defendants were planning to intimidate them.
Newlywed PC Harper, 28, became entangled in a tow rope attached to their Seat Toledo as he tried to apprehend them on the night of August 15 last year.
Long drove off at ‘breakneck’ speed, dragging the officer for more than a mile along country lanes before he was dislodged, having suffered horrific injuries.
PC Andrew Harper was dragged behind a car after responding to a reported quad bike theft
The teenagers admitted plotting the theft and Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter but each denied knowing that Thames Valley Police officer PC Harper was there.
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 reconstruction suggested that rather than stopping, Long swerved in the road to try to throw him off.
Jurors also saw dashcam footage that appeared to catch the moment Cole turned towards the officer before diving through the window of the getaway car and making good his escape.
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
PC Harper’s tearful widow Lissie was comforted by other family members in court as the verdicts were delivered. Mr Justice Edis adjourned sentence until next Friday.
It can now be reported that Long had previously threatened to ‘ram’ a police officer as he chatted with a police community support officer (PCSO).
In the conversation in July 2018, ruled inadmissible during the trial, Long said: ‘You can’t touch me now ‘cos I’ve passed my driving test and if police try to stop me I will ram them.’
Long had previously admitted manslaughter but denied intending to harm PC Harper.