Sentences of three teens jailed over PC Harper killing will not be changed

16 December 2020, 10:48 | Updated: 16 December 2020, 10:51

Albert Bowers (left) and Jessie Cole (centre) leaving Reading Magistrates Court.
Albert Bowers (left) and Jessie Cole (centre) leaving Reading Magistrates Court. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The sentences given to three teenagers for the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper will not be changed after the Court of Appeal dismissed challenges by the Attorney General and the trio.

Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were handed 13 years in July over the death of the Thames Valley Police traffic officer.

Announcing the Court of Appeal's decision, Dame Victoria Sharp said the court had dismissed the Attorney General's appeal against Long, Cole and Bowers' sentences for manslaughter, as well as the trio's own appeals against their custodial terms.

The court did reduce the sentences imposed on Cole and Bowers for conspiracy to steal, from 38 months detention to an 18-month detention and training order given their ages at the time of the offence.

However, Dame Victoria said: "The effect of our decision is that all three offenders remain convicted of the manslaughter of Pc Harper and the overall length of their custodial sentences remain unaltered."

An application by Cole and Bowers for leave to appeal against their convictions for Pc Harper's manslaughter was refused as being "wholly unarguable".

Henry Long, 19, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, had their appeal dismissed
Henry Long, 19, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, had their appeal dismissed. Picture: TVP

Pc Harper, 28, was caught in a strap attached to the back of a car driven by Long and dragged to his death down a winding country road as the trio fled the scene of a quad bike theft in Berkshire on the night of August 15 2019.

Long - the leader of the group - admitted manslaughter, while passengers Cole and Bowers were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey.

Read more: Police Federation Chairman: Pc Andrew Harper killers should "face the rest of their lives in prison"

All three were cleared of murder by the jury, which deliberated for more than 12 hours.

In a statement, she said: "Many months have passed since I sat in a cold and soulless courtroom, awaiting the fate to be given to the criminals who took my husband's life and our future together.

"Many days I have spent fighting against an inadequate sentence and a wrong-doing that I could not accept.

"I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to the Attorney General and show my respect to her for the decisions she made regarding the undue leniency of this case.

"I know that she made the right decisions in seeking review of these sentences and regardless of the outcome I am pleased that she holds the same views as myself and so many other law-abiding citizens of this country.

"Today after so much waiting we have finally been given the outcome of these long-awaited decisions regarding these three men, their futures and whether or not justice will ultimately be served.

"Of course, no punishment, no time in prison will ever serve to make up for the theft of someone's life, and not just someone, but an incredible person who gave without greed or expectation to his fellow man, and I will be eternally proud to call Andrew my husband.

"I miss him more as each day passes and I will continue to live my life in his honour, with respect, love and an unbreakable moral code.

"I am of course disappointed with this outcome and ultimately feel along with the Attorney General and the majority of our country that these sentences are far too lenient, that they do not reflect the severity and barbarity of the crimes they committed.

"I continue to feel let down by our justice system and the inadequate laws that we have in place."