Petition to overturn PC Andrew Harper verdicts signed by more than 200,000 people

·4 min read
PC Andrew Harper was killed last August (PA)
PC Andrew Harper was killed last August. (PA)

An online petition to overturn the verdicts in the killing of PC Andrew Harper has more than 200,000 signatures.

Last Friday, three teenagers were convicted of the police officer’s manslaughter but cleared of murder.

Newlywed PC Harper, 28, died from catastrophic injuries when he was dragged for more than a mile behind their Seat Toledo car after his ankle was caught in a strap behind the vehicle as he tried to apprehend them.

The driver, Henry Long, 19, and passengers Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were trying to escape capture at Sulhamstead, Berkshire, after stealing a quad bike on 15 August last year.

The men had been seen laughing both inside and outside of court during their trial at the Old Bailey. They hugged each other when the manslaughter verdicts were handed down.

From left to right: Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers have been convicted of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper (PA)
From left to right: Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers have been convicted of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper. (PA)
Previously unissued photo dated 19/09/19 of Albert Bowers (left) and Jessie Cole (centre) leaving Reading Magistrates Court following an appearance in relation to the death of PC Andrew Harper. Driver Henry Long, 19, has been found not guilty at the Old Bailey of murder, but had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter. His passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter for the death of Pc Andrew Harper, who had been attempting to apprehend quad bike thieves when he was killed on the night of August 15, 2019.
Albert Bowers, left, and Jessie Cole, centre, laughing at a previous court appearance - the pair have been convicted of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper. (PA)

More than 200,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for the manslaughter verdicts to be overturned.

One of the signatures appears to be from PC Harper’s mother, Debbie Adlam.

She wrote: “Andrew James Harper is my son. I am disgusted that he has been let down.

“Utterly and bitterly disgusted with the outcome. Andrew went to work to serve us all. And this is how he was repaid.”

The police officer’s widow, Lissie Harper, said she was “immensely disappointed” the three teenagers were cleared of murder.

Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper, speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey in London, after driver Henry Long, 19, who dragged Pc Andrew Harper to his death, was found not guilty of murder but had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.
Lissie Harper, the widow of PC Andrew Harper, speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey in London last week. (PA)
An online petition has demanded that the manslaughter verdicts in the killing of PC Andrew Harper be overturned (PA)
An online petition has demanded that the manslaughter verdicts in the killing of PC Andrew Harper be overturned. (PA)

Following the verdicts, she said: "This crime, whatever the outcome deliberated over in court, was brutal and senseless.

"The way in which Andrew was robbed of his life we all know to be barbaric and inexplicable.”

At the weekend, she shared an emotional letter on Facebook on what should have been the couple’s first anniversary together.

In the post, she said their first anniversary “should have been wildly different, instead of celebrating with you on our first anniversary, I am alone in utter disbelief”.

“I feel as though I have lost a limb, except it’s so much worse than that, because actually I’ve lost the best part of myself.”

The teenagers admitted plotting the theft and Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter but each denied knowing that PC Harper was there.

Their defence claimed the incident was a "freak event" that none of them could have planned or foreseen.

But the prosecution said at more than 6ft and weighing 14 stone, the defendants must have been aware PC Harper was being dragged to his death.

Police officers gather to pay their respects at the scene near Ufton Lane, Sulhamstead, Berkshire, where Thames Valley Police officer Pc Andrew Harper, 28, died on Thursday near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire.
Police officers gather to pay their respects at the scene in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, where Thames Valley Police officer PC Andrew Harper died (PA)

A jury deliberated for more than 12 hours to clear all three of murder but convict Cole and Bowers of manslaughter.

Following the verdicts, it can now be reported that Long had previously threatened to "ram" a police officer as he chatted with a police community support officer.

In the conversation in July 2018, ruled inadmissible during the trial, Long said: "You can't touch me now 'cos I've passed my driving test and if police try to stop me I will ram them."

Tributes left in Ufton Lane near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, where PC Andrew Harper died in August 2019.
Tributes left at the scene near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, where PC Andrew Harper died in August 2019. (PA)

Long had previous convictions for battery, being drunk and disorderly and shoplifting.

Bowers also had youth convictions including for battery, criminal damage, sexual assault, and having an offensive weapon.

All three defendants were said to be members of the travellers' community.

Judge Mr Justice Edis had also ordered extra security measures amid fears of potential juror intimidation by supporters of the defendants, it can now be reported.

Thames Valley Police Detective Superintendent Stuart Blaik said: "Long, Bowers and Cole have shown no remorse for what happened that evening at any stage."

The trio are due to be sentenced on Friday.

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