Court of Appeal to rule on Pc Andrew Harper killers’ sentences

The Court of Appeal will rule on whether Pc Andrew Harper’s killers’ sentences for manslaughter are “unduly lenient” following a bid by the Attorney General to have them increased.

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.

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.

Left to right, Henry Long, 19, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18
Left to right, Henry Long, 19, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18

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

At a hearing in November, Attorney General Suella Braverman said the trio’s sentences should be increased, for an offence that was “as serious a case of manslaughter as it is possible to envisage”.

But lawyers representing Long, Cole and Bowers, who appeared by video link from HMP Belmarsh, argued that their sentences were too long and should be reduced.

On Wednesday morning, Dame Victoria Sharp – sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice William Davis – will give the court’s ruling on the appeals.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after last month’s hearing, Pc Harper’s widow Lissie Harper said: “I stand before you with my heart as heavy as it was those many months ago when I stood feeling let down and angry outside of the Old Bailey.

Pc Andrew Harper on his wedding day
Pc Andrew Harper on his wedding day

“Yet today I feel pride in myself for not settling for something that I see as unacceptable.

“Proud to fight for my heroic husband Andrew, as I also continue to push for the safety and justice of his fellow emergency service protectors in the future.

“Today has been as harrowing as you can all expect, however we leave this court with at least a sense of balance.

“Reaching a step closer to a fair outcome is something that I have strived towards for a long time.

“We have all hoped and prayed that our beloved boy’s death will not go improperly unpunished.

“So we continue with our agonising battle for justice, a journey that we have had to endure for too long.”

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
Police officer killed in Sulhamstead

At the hearing in November, Mrs Braverman told the court: “Pc Harper paid the ultimate price for his bravery and this should be reflected in the sentence.”

Referring to Long’s sentence, 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?”

Rossano Scamardella QC, representing Long, said Pc Harper’s death was the result of “a freakish accident” after he became attached to the back of the car, adding: “There was no intentional application of force or violence… there was no intent whatsoever to cause serious bodily harm or death.”

Timothy Raggatt QC, representing Bowers, said: “The idea that these sentences could be described as unduly lenient… is, to be blunt, far-fetched in the extreme.”

The judgment will be handed down at the Royal Courts of Justice in London at 10.20am.