Leader of gang of teenage burglars who dragged PC Andrew Harper to his death previously threatened to mow down a cop


THE LEADER of a teenage gang of burglars who dragged PC Andrew Harper to his death under their car had previously threatened to mow down a police officer, it can now be revealed.

Callous Henry Long, 19, made the threat to run over a cop during a confrontation with a Police Community Support Officer before he killed PC Harper, 29.

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.”

Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were today cleared of the newlywed officer’s murder at the Old Bailey.

Bowers and Cole were found guilty of his manslaughter. Long had already admitted the same charge.

Long’s prophetic threat was mentioned during legal submissions but was barred from being mentioned in evidence.

The illiterate trio caused distress and outrage with their behaviour during the trial, smirking and laughing throughout proceedings.

They giggled while harrowing details of PC Harper’s death were read out and smiled as the court heard how a witness mistook the officer’s body for a “deer carcass” being pulled behind the getaway car.

One of the defendants, Bowers, fell asleep as the prosecutor showed jurors video footage of the Thames Valley Police officer being dragged to his death.

At an earlier magistrates hearing they clowned around in front of photographers as they arrived at court.

The larking defendants appeared unable to grasp the gravity of the case and remained oblivious to PC Harper’s tearful widow Lissie, who attended court for every day of the trial.

In spite of the callous conduct of the defendants, Lissie, 29, married just four weeks before her husband died, remained dignified as she sat with his parents Phil Harper and Debbie Adlam, and brother Sean.

The officer’s family heard how he was lassoed by the loop of a rope trailing from the gang’s SEAT Toledo as they escaped with a £10,000 Honda quad bike from a burglary at remote Bradfield Southend, near Reading, Berks.

The court was told how the cop was dragged for more than a mile along a country lane at speeds of up to 60 mph while driver Long swerved violently.

PC Harper’s body was completely naked apart from socks when discovered by the officer’s colleagues after he eventually came loose from the lethal harness.

The gang fled without stopping at speeds of 70 mph, attracting attention and causing alarm among other motorists.

When arrested soon afterwards at the Four Houses Corner site in Upton Nervet, Long spitefully claimed he had been watching a Fast and Furious DVD at the time of Pc Harper’s death.

He arrogantly boasted to police: “I don’t give a f*** about any of this.”

Long, of Mortimer, Reading, admitted manslaughter but denied murder.

Bowers, also of Mortimer, and Cole, of Bramley, Hants, pleaded not guilty to alternative charges of murder and manslaughter.

Some jurors were visibly distressed by details of the case and the panel was offered counselling before the trial started.

But one young female juror was dismissed on the eve of the panel being sent out to deliberate their verdicts after being seen to smile at the defendants last Friday.

A prison guard sitting in the dock with the defendants reported her to the judge after she told the trio last Friday ‘Bye, bye, boys,’ while leaving court at the end of the day’s hearing.

A first trial was abandoned midway in March over coronavirus and a retrial started last month.

The appalling behaviour of the defendants continued throughout both trials.

They were in the dock for only half of the retrial, spending the other half nonchalantly watching proceedings in a video suite at Belmarsh Prison.

A group of around 25 supporters were present at court as the verdicts were given. However, the defendants themselves were unable to attend because no prison vans were available.

It can now be revealed how cops had feared there was a plot to intimidate jurors after a man was spotted eyeballing the first panel from the public gallery.

Stringent security precautions were taken during the second jury’s visit to the crime scene, and two drones were deployed to ensure their protection.

On the night he died there, PC Harper and a colleague, PC Andrew Shaw, were due to have finished work at 7pm.

They were already working late and heading back on the M4 to their Reading base when they answered an 11pm call to the burglary at the home of Peter Wallis.

The teenage gang had cased the property earlier in the day and later returned masked and armed with an axe, crowbars and a length of pipe to use against anyone in their way.

They disabled the SEAT’s rear lights and taped over the number plate but were seen by Mr Wallis taking the Honda TRX500 quad bike and roping its handlebars to the back of the car.

The officers came across the SEAT driving towards them on narrow Admoor Lane.

Cole unhitched the bike and dived through a passenger window to escape PC Harper who had got out of the unmarked BMW police car.

PC Harper’s feet became entangled in the trailing rope and was dragged away by the car.

The court heard he would have been rendered unconscious almost immediately and was unable to free himself.

His colleague PC Shaw found his shredded and bloodied vest lying in the road.

Long told his screaming accomplices to ‘shut up’ as he roared along the lane with music blaring loudly while dragging the officer behind.

The SEAT pulled onto the A4 at the end of the lane and PC Harper’s body finally came free as it turned into Ufton Lane.

But within hours of PC Harper’s death the young driver and his two passengers were arrested at a nearby traveller camp, the jury were told.

Police who recovered PC Harper’s body were advised to seek therapy to deal with the trauma.

They were initially released on bail but charged when phone signals proved they were in the area at the time.


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