Family of Pc Andrew Harper ‘devastated’ following his death

By PA Reporters

The father of Pc Andrew Harper has said his family are “devastated” following the death of the newlywed police officer.

Philip Harper also told Sky News “we’re in a bad place”, after the 28-year-old died following a serious incident on Thursday night near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire.

It came as the family released a further image of the officer. Taken on his recent wedding day, Pc Harper is pictured smiling at the camera in his wedding suit.

Grieving officers having been laying floral tributes at the scene where their colleague was killed after he was dragged along by a vehicle.

Thames Valley Police said 10 boys and men aged between 13 and 30 arrested on suspicion of murder remain in custody at various police stations in the force area.

On Saturday morning officers stationed at the scene laid flowers near two tents which had been erected on Ufton Lane, with one describing him as “Thames Valley’s finest”.

Another tribute read: “A shockingly sad day. We come together as a brotherhood at times like this and hopefully your family can take some comfort from that love and support.”

Chief Constable John Campbell said Pc Harper was at the scene with a fellow officer and was out of his police car when the incident occurred, adding: “What we do know is Andrew had been dragged along by a vehicle.”

Pc Andrew Harper and his wife, Lissie, celebrating their wedding just four weeks ago (Mark Lord/PA)

He said the suspects were detained within about an hour of the incident and officers are working “hard and diligently to find out what happened”.

Asked by the PA news agency about reports that Pc Harper was hit by a second police vehicle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Matthew Barber, said he was not aware of that detail.

A post-mortem examination is taking place to establish the cause of death.

One witness, who did not want to be named, told the Daily Mail that Pc Harper’s colleague was crouched over his body which was lying on the lane.

A message from officers of the Thames Valley Police armed response vehicles unit on a floral tribute at the scene (Ben Birchall/PA)

They added: “The officer’s crewmate was shouting, saying ‘stay with me, stay with me. Keep breathing’.”

Mr Campbell said Pc Harper joined as a special constable in 2010 before becoming a police officer a year later, serving in the Roads Policing Proactive Unit based at Abingdon Police Station.

He added that the officer “only married four weeks ago”, and pictures show Pc Harper and his new wife Lissie celebrating their wedding at the award-winning stately venue Ardington House, a Georgian manor in Oxfordshire set in gardens and parkland.

Relatives described the day as a “dream wedding”.

A police officer lays a floral tribute at the scene (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mr Campbell said Pc Harper was a “highly regarded, popular member of the team”, adding: “Everybody I’ve spoken to about Andrew talked about the incredible personality he was, what a fantastic police officer, and what a great friend and man he was, and he’ll be sorely missed by everybody.”

Mr Campbell extended his thanks to the officers and other emergency services who attended the incident for their support and professionalism at what was an “obviously distressing scene”.

He said the force’s flags will fly at half-mast as a sign of respect “in honour and memory of Andrew”.

The incident took place at the crossroads of Ufton Lane and Lambdens Hill, near to the village of Sulhamstead – near Bucklebury where Carole and Michael Middleton, the mother and father of the Duchess of Cambridge, live.

On Friday, forensic investigators could be seen gathering items that lay on the road and taking photographs, and two white tents were erected.

Police also searched the inside of a grey BMW that was at the scene, according to witnesses.

On Friday and Saturday there was also a police presence at a caravan site near Burghfield Common, not far from where the incident took place.

Police at a caravan site near Burghfield Common in Berkshire (Ben Birchall/PA)

Pc Harper is the first officer to be killed on duty since March 2017, when unarmed Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed by Khalid Masood during the Westminster Bridge terror attack.

The incident came after a police constable was run over by a suspected car thief in Birmingham last week.

The married 42-year-old traffic officer from West Midlands Police is facing “potentially life-changing” injuries, a senior officer told the PA news agency.

That came just days after Metropolitan Police constable Stuart Outten, 28, was left with head and hand injuries after challenging a motor offences suspect allegedly armed with a machete in Leyton, east London.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the death of Pc Harper a “mindless and brutal” crime, saying he was “shocked and appalled” by the attack.

Mr Johnson’s comments followed his pledge to hire 20,000 more police officers and an announcement of a range of investments to boost the criminal justice system.

He also vowed to see violent offenders locked up for longer as a result of an “urgent review” of sentencing laws.

Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to call police on 101.