PC Andrew Harper's teen killers face having jail time increased today after widow's campaign over 'lenient' sentence

PC Andrew Harper's teen killers face having their jail time increased today after his widow's campaign over their "lenient" sentences.

PC Harper, 28, was dragged to his death while responding to a quad bike theft near Reading, Berkshire on August 15 last year.



The Court of Appeal will rule on whether the 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.

Long – the leader of the group – admitted manslaughter, while passengers Cole and Bowers were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey.

All three were cleared of murder, much to the dismay of the slain cop's family.

His devastated wife Lissie, who wed her childhood sweetheart four weeks before his death, has campaigned for the three to be given stronger sentences.

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.

Dame Victoria Sharp – sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice William Davis – will give the court's ruling on the appeals today.

'AGONISING BATTLE'

Last month, PC Harper's determined widow vowed to win "proper punishment" for her husband's teen killers.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after last month's hearing, an emotional 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.

"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."

Lissie has launched a campaign called Harper's Law calling for those convicted of manslaughter to be jailed for life if the victim is an emergency worker.

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."

During the trial, the court heard that the masked teens, who have a long list of previous convictions, had tried to steal a £10,000 bike armed with an axe, crowbars and a length of pipe when they were apprehended by PC Harper.

As the cop got out of his unmarked BMW police car, Cole unhitched the bike and made a bid for freedom through the passenger window.

But tragically, PC Harper's ankles became tangled in the two ropes attached to the teens' getaway car as they sped off.

The hero cop was dragged along the country lane at speeds of up to 60mph, leaving him with horrific injuries.

His heartless killers smirked and dozed off in court as the gruesome catalogue of wounds was read to the court.

Jurors were told PC Harper would have been knocked unconscious almost immediately and was therefore unable to free himself.

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


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