PC Andrew Harper: Killers' sentences remain unchanged after appeal

·3-min read

The sentences given to PC Andrew Harper's killers remain unchanged after challenges at the Court of Appeal.

Henry Long, 19, had been given 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 15 August 2019.

PC Harper's widow, Lissie Harper, 29, said she was "let down" by the judgement.

She said: "I am of course disappointed with this outcome and ultimately feel along with the attorney general and the majority of our country that these sentences are far too lenient, that they do not reflect the severity and barbarity of the crimes they committed.

"Of course, no punishment, no time in prison will ever serve to make up for the theft of someone's life, and not just someone, but an incredible person who gave without greed or expectation to his fellow man, and I will be eternally proud to call Andrew my husband."

Long admitted manslaughter, while passengers Cole and Bowers were convicted of manslaughter after the trial at the Old Bailey in July.

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

At the time, Mrs Harper said she was "utterly shocked and appalled" at the decision not to convict the trio of murder.

Mrs Harper, who married her husband one month before his death, went on to launch a campaign calling for a minimum sentence of life in prison for anyone convicted of killing "a police officer, firefighter, doctor, prison officer or paramedic".

At a hearing in November Attorney General Suella Braverman argued that the three teenagers' sentences were "unduly lenient" and "as serious a case of manslaughter as it is possible to envisage".

She told the court Long, who was described by prosecutors as the leader of the group, should have been given a life sentence and remained dangerous.

Lawyers representing the three argued that their sentences were too long and should be reduced.

On Wednesday, Dame Victoria Sharp said the court had dismissed the attorney general's appeal against Long, Cole and Bowers' sentences for manslaughter, as well as the trio's own appeals against their custodial terms.

The court did reduce the sentences imposed on Cole and Bowers for conspiracy to steal, from 38 months detention to an 18-month detention and training order given their ages at the time of the offence.

However, Dame Victoria said: "The effect of our decision is that all three offenders remain convicted of the manslaughter of PC Harper and the overall length of their custodial sentences remain unaltered."

In the written judgment, Dame Victoria added: "No one doubts the seriousness of the offending in this case."

Referring to the attorney general's argument that the sentences were "unduly lenient", Dame Victoria said: "The judge had to sentence three young offenders for manslaughter, not for murder."

An application by Cole and Bowers for leave to appeal against their convictions for PC Harper's manslaughter was refused as being "wholly unarguable".

In a statement after the ruling, a spokesman for the attorney general's office said: "The attorney general challenged the sentences given to PC Harper's killers as she considered them to be too low, but she respects the decision of the Court of Appeal.

"Her thoughts remain with PC Harper's family for their unimaginable loss."