PC Andrew Harper was dragged behind car for more than a mile in ‘completely senseless killing’, court hears

Officer was killed while responding to a call about a stolen quad bike, Old Bailey told

Margaret Davis,Emily Pennink
Tuesday 10 March 2020 14:33

Police officer Andrew Harper was dragged for more than a mile along a road and killed in “truly shocking circumstances”, a court has heard.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the Old Bailey on Monday that the alleged murder of the constable was “a completely senseless killing”.

PC Harper, a constable of Thames Valley Police, died from multiple injuries when he was pulled along behind a car after responding to the reported theft of a quad bike from a home near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire.

Henry Long from Reading, and two 17-year-olds, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all deny murdering the Thames Valley Police officer in August last year.

Mr Altman told jurors: “Late at night, on Thursday 15 August of last year, in Berkshire, 28-year-old Andrew Harper, a serving police constable of Thames Valley Police, was killed in truly shocking circumstances.

PC Harper was caught in a strap that was trailing behind a car being driven at speed along a country lane and was dragged for over a mile along the road before becoming disentangled.

The officer suffered injuries that were unsurvivable, the court heard.

The jury was told: “This was a completely senseless killing of a young police officer in the line of duty.”

Mr Long has admitted manslaughter, which the younger boys deny, and all three have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

Several members of PC Harper's family were in court as the prosecution case opened.

Some were not present as dashcam footage of a trail of blood left on the road was shown to the jury.

A camera on the front of the car showed the marks on the tarmac as PC Andrew Shaw drove down country lanes looking for his crew mate.

It ended as PC Shaw crossed over the A4 and met another officer who was tending to PC Harper, seen lying bloodied in the road.

PC Harper, known as “Harps” to his colleagues, was part of Thames Valley's Roads Policing Unit, and had been due to work a 10am to 7pm shift that day.

He was still on duty with officer Andrew Shaw at 11.17pm, and they were driving in an unmarked police BMW fitted with emergency lights.

The pair, who were both wearing uniform, answered the call to the reported theft of the quad bike although it was past the end of their shift.

Mr Altman said: “Despite it being well beyond the end of their shift, because they were close and thought they could help, they responded to the call. It was a decision that was to cost Andrew Harper his life.”

Prosecutors claim that the three defendants had planned the theft, visiting the home of owner Peter Wallis earlier that day and taking steps to avoid being caught by police.

Mr Altman said: “It is perfectly clear that all three had thought about and carefully planned this criminal enterprise. There was no point going to all this effort to steal a brand new, valuable quad bike only to be caught.

“They had clearly reckoned with the risk they might be stopped by the police. Not only did they wear gloves and disguise themselves with masks, but also they had disconnected all the rear light clusters to the car - brake, side and indicator lights - so that in any pursuit along dark country lanes they could disappear into the night, without trace, as had been their plan.”

The court heard that the officers were driving along Lambdens Hill, a country lane, on their way to the call when they met a Seat Toledo, driven by Mr Long, coming the other way.

One of the 17-year-olds was in the passenger seat, and the other was riding the quad bike which was being towed behind the car, attached to the boot lid hinge with a crane strap that formed a loop.

As the cars met, the teenager on the quad bike dismounted, disconnected the strap from the bike and tried unsuccessfully to get into the passenger door of the Seat, as Mr Long began to drive off, jurors heard.

PC Shaw turned the BMW's emergency lights on, and the teenager ran to jump through the back passenger window of the Seat.

As PC Harper tried to stop him, the officer's feet were encircled in the crane strap, and he was dragged along as Mr Long drove off.

The court heard that Mr Long drove at an average speed of 42.5mph, leaving a snaking trail of tyre marks, blood and clothing as he swerved across the country lane.

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