International

PC Andrew Harper: Killers’ sentences to be reviewed

The killers of PC Andrew Harper have had their sentences referred to the Court of Appeal after the attorney general considered them to be “unduly lenient”.

Suella Braverman QC said attacks against emergency workers should be “punished with the greatest severity”.

PC Harper, 28, suffered catastrophic injuries when he was dragged behind a getaway car in Berkshire last August.

Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were convicted of manslaughter.

Youth ‘mitigating factor’

The driver, Long, 19, was jailed for 16 years while his passengers Bowers and Cole, both 18, were sentenced to 13 years each.

The three teenagers were all cleared of murder charges following a trial at the Old Bailey in London.

At the time of the offence, Bowers and Cole were both 17. Only Long aged 18 was an adult.

During sentencing Mr Justice Edis said the age of the defendants at the time of the offence was a mitigating factor in determining the length of their jail terms.

Jessie Cole (l) and Albert Bowers (r) were convicted along with Henry Long (centre)

‘Such heinous crimes’

The Attorney General Suella Braverman said PC Harper’s killing was a “horrific crime which resulted in the death of a much-respected police officer while he was on-duty, protecting his community”.

She said she had referred the sentences after “having personally considered the details of this shocking case”.

“Offenders should be punished with the greatest severity for such heinous crimes,” she added.

The unduly lenient sentence (ULS) scheme allows victims of crime, their families, prosecutors and the public to ask law officers to review sentences for certain crimes that they believe are too low. It only requires one complaint for the attorney general’s office to consider whether to refer the matter to the Court of Appeal.

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The referral comes after PC Harper’s widow Lissie and his mother Deborah Adlam launched campaigns calling for tougher sentences for killers of emergency service workers.

Lissie Harper said she was “totally surprised and disappointed” at the manslaughter verdict

Speaking in the witness box was “one of the hardest things” she had done, Mrs Harper previously said.

“So at the end of it, to not get any real justice is heartbreaking,” his widow told the BBC.

Reacting to the attorney general’s decision, Mrs Adlam said: “My family and I know that the whole nation stands with us in outrage at the sentences handed down to my son’s killers.

“We can only hope that a fairer outcome is reached by the Court of Appeal to deliver the justice that Andrew deserves.”

The maximum sentence a judge can impose for manslaughter is life imprisonment but they must specify a minimum term to be served.

The last picture of Mr and Mrs Harper was taken four days before the officer died

What is the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme?

  • The scheme allows victims of crime, their families, prosecutors and the public to ask law officers to review sentences for certain crimes that they believe are unfair.
  • The attorney general can only ask the Court of Appeal to review a sentence under the ULS scheme if they consider that sentence to be “unduly lenient”. It means, for example, that a sentencing judge made a gross error or imposed a sentence outside the range of reasonable sentences available.
  • The scheme only applies to sentences given in crown courts in England and Wales.
  • The attorney general acts independently of government when deciding on unduly lenient sentences.

Source: Attorney general’s office.


Mr Justice Edis, the sentencing judge in the case, told the Old Bailey each of the jail terms for PC Harper’s killers had to reflect “the seriousness of this case”.

‘Immaturity’

Sentencing Long, he told the leader of the group “although this is an extremely serious offence” he had decided not impose a life sentence because of his age.

“A man only a few years older than you would have received a life sentence,” the judge said.

Long’s custodial term had a starting point of 24 years, but was reduced to 16 years due to his age and his guilty plea of manslaughter. He will serve 10 years and eight months before he is considered for parole.

The judge said a starting point of 20 years for Cole and Bowers was reduced to 13 years each due to their ages and “immaturity”.

A date for the hearing at the Court of Appeal has yet to be set.

On Wednesday, Bowers and Cole lodged applications with the Court of Appeal seeking permission to challenge their manslaughter convictions and sentences.

PC Harper, from Wallingford in Oxfordshire, was responding to reports of a quad bike theft on 15 August 2019. While attempting to apprehend one of the three defendants, his feet became entangled in a rope trailing behind a getaway car.

As the car sped off, PC Harper became “lassoed” to the back of the vehicle and was dragged for more than a mile along country lanes to his death.