A POLICE officer has described the moment he realised a 'bloody mess' in the road was a person - his colleague PC Andrew Harper.

PC Christopher Bushnell gave chase after coming across a Seat Toledo dragging an object behind it near the A4 in Berkshire on the evening of August 15 last year.

Shortly before, PC Harper had become entangled in a tow rope attached to the boot of the Seat, as he tried to apprehend quad bike thieves.

The 28-year-old officer would have been knocked unconscious as he was pulled along country lanes for just over a mile, the Old Bailey has heard.

By the time he became detached he had suffered catastrophic injuries, and was pronounced dead in the road.

Giving evidence, PC Bushnell described the moment he saw the Seat.

He told jurors: "My eye was drawn away from the vehicle to what was behind it.I could not process what I was seeing, perhaps a trailer. However it was not moving much, as a trailer would. I did not know what it was.

"I peered in the dark to see what was behind it. I could see whatever it was was swinging from left to right across the road behind the car.

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The accused

"I said to myself 'what the f*** is that, what the f***, what the absolute f***' because I could not initially make out what it was.

"As I got closer, 50 metres away, I came to the conclusion it was a deer carcass, because it was a bloody mess.

"I lost sight of it for a few seconds and then I saw it again about 30 metres in front of me."

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When he put on his blue lights, the car began to accelerate away.

He said: "At this exact moment, all of a sudden I saw a flailing head, as if he was doing backstroke."

He told jurors he could just make out a face 'because of the teeth'.

PC Bushnell raised the alert of a body in the road and gave chase with blue lights on.

The officer said he paused at a fork in the road, trying to 'second guess' where the suspects' vehicle went.

He then saw a vehicle coming back down the hill coming towards him.

Describing the incident, he said: "Without warning it came straight towards me. There were no lights on the vehicle, it was just black."

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The officer veered to the left to avoid a collision. He said: "I took the view they had deliberately chosen to drive straight at me."

The Seat was later located by a police helicopter at a nearby travellers' campsite.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC said there was no pathological evidence to suggest that PC Bushnell's vehicle had accidentally struck PC Harper during the pursuit.

He said: "It was an extremely traumatic event for you. Your duty that night was brought to an end for obvious reasons."

The driver, Henry Long, 19, and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, 18, from near Reading, have denied murder.

They had admitted conspiracy to steal the quad bike and Long has also pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The Old Bailey retrial continues.