PC Harper killing ringleader 'should have been jailed for life', court told

30 November 2020, 13:58 | Updated: 30 November 2020, 14:01

Henry Long was convicted of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper
Henry Long was convicted of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper. Picture: PA

The leader of the three teenagers who killed Pc Andrew Harper should have been given a life sentence, the Attorney General has told the Court of Appeal.

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

Pc Harper, 28, was caught in a crane 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 Pc Harper's manslaughter, while Cole and Bowers, both passengers on that fateful night, were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey.

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

Pc Harper was killed on duty
Pc Harper was killed on duty. Picture: PA

At the Court of Appeal in London on Monday, Attorney General Suella Braverman argued that the three teenagers' sentences were "unduly lenient" and should be increased.

She told Dame Victoria Sharp, Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice William Davis that Long's 16-year jail term did not reflect "the seriousness of the offence" and was "contrary to the interests of justice".

Mrs Braverman also argued that the sentencing judge "accorded too great a reduction" to Bowers and Coles' sentences "for their age and learning difficulties".

She told the court: "Pc Harper paid the ultimate price for his bravery and this should be reflected in the sentence."

Referring to Long's 16-year term, Mrs Braverman said: "A life sentence was the appropriate sentence for the first offender, who was and remains dangerous ... if not in a case such as this, then when?"

In written submissions, Mrs Braverman said of all three: "These are sentences that have caused and continue to cause widespread public concern.

"It appears to me that the sentences passed on the offenders were unduly lenient."

Pc Harper and his wife Lissie had been married for just four weeks when he and a Thames Valley Police colleague responded to a late-night burglary in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, in August last year.

Mrs Harper has since campaigned for Harper's Law, which would mean those who kill emergency workers are jailed for life, and met Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland earlier this month.

Mrs Harper also told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday show that she believes all officers should be armed with tasers.

Speaking to Tom Swarbrick she made the point that officers don't necessarily need to use a taser, but "to have that there, so that people realise they are going to get hurt unless they stop, is huge."

“I think that the respect is gone for emergency workers and we are not realising that they do a lot for us and if we need them that is who we will turn to.”

“It is just something that keeps happening it seems and it is just awful,” she added.

At their trial, the trio's defence claimed the incident was a "freak event" that none of them could have planned or foreseen.

But the prosecution said the defendants must have been aware that Pc Harper - at more than 6ft and weighing 14 stone - was being dragged to his death.

It is not known if the court will give a ruling on Monday afternoon or reserve its judgment to a later date.