Family of killed Pc Andrew Harper welcomes jail term review

The family of a police officer dragged to his death as he tried to stop three thieves has welcomed a review of the jail terms handed to his killers.

Pc Andrew Harper's mother Debbie Adlam told the PA news agency that the level of the sentences handed down was "horrible" for his relatives, and was "like being punched".

Henry Long, 19, and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday for the manslaughter of Pc Harper.

The 28-year-old newlywed, a traffic officer for Thames Valley Police, died in horrific circumstances on August 15 last year when he tried to stop the trio fleeing after they stole a quad bike in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire.

Pc Harper was caught in a crane strap dangling from the back of a Seat Toledo driven by Long, and dragged to his death.

On Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office confirmed that it has been asked to consider if the jail terms handed down are too lenient.

Long, of College Piece in Mortimer, was sentenced to 16 years, while Cole, from Paices Hill, Aldermaston, Reading, and Bowers, of Windmill Corner, Mortimer Common, Reading, were each handed 13-year terms.

Mrs Adlam said: "Andrew deserves so much better.

Pc Andrew Harper
Pc Andrew Harper

"And we can't bring him back but all we can do is try and hope that there's something better to give him the justice he deserves, and give us some kind of closure.

"Losing Andrew has just been above and beyond what we could even imagine. It's just knocked us sideways.

"The case just hasn't brought justice for him. The wider public has made that very obvious – they are all very angry and police officers deserve better than has been received in this case."

Law officers at the Attorney General's office have 28 days from sentencing to review the case.

Lissie Harper
Lissie Harper

If they find the tariff to be too low, they will ask the Court of Appeal to review it.

Pc Harper's widow Lissie had expressed bitter disappointment that her husband's killers were cleared of murder and instead found guilty of manslaughter.

The teenage defendants, who had previously been seen laughing in the dock, hugged each other when they were cleared of the more serious crime.

Instead, jurors convicted Cole and Bowers of manslaughter – an offence Long had already admitted.

Speaking about the killers' reaction, Mrs Adlam said: "Very insulting that was. To see them jumping and celebrating was hard enough.

"They got away with it really.

"But now hopefully the sentence can be increased to something that is a little more realistic for the crime that they've committed.

"We've lost our son, we'll never see our son again and they are still going to be young men able to come out and continue to live in the way they choose."

Debbie Adlam
Debbie Adlam

The Attorney General has no power to order a retrial, and prosecutors would either need new and compelling evidence to apply for the acquittals to be quashed, or there would need to be proven interference with the jury.

Measures were put in place to protect the jury in the Pc Harper case, and one female juror was discharged after she was seen by a prison officer to mouth "Bye boys" to the teenagers in the dock.

But trial judge Mr Justice Edis said there was no evidence that the jury had been pressured.

He told the Old Bailey: "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."