THE sentences given to three teenagers for the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper will not be changed after the Court of Appeal dismissed challenges by the Attorney General and the trio.

Oxford Mail:

(L to R) Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers (Thames Valley Police/PA)

Henry Long, 19, was jailed in July for 16 years and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were handed 13 years in custody over the death of the Thames Valley Police traffic officer.

PC Harper, 28, was caught in a strap attached to the back of a car driven by Long and dragged to his death down a winding country road as the trio fled the scene of a quad bike theft in Berkshire on the night of August 15, 2019.

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 by the jury, which deliberated for more than 12 hours.

At a hearing in November, Attorney General Suella Braverman said the youths’ 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.

Oxford Mail:

Pc Andrew Harper on his wedding day (Thames Valley Police/PA)

This morning, Dame Victoria Sharp – sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice William Davis – dismissed the Attorney General’s application to increase the trio’s sentences.

The Court of Appeal also rejected Long, Cole and Bowers’ appeals against their sentences for manslaughter as 'wholly unarguable'.

Cole and Bowers had also sought to appeal against their convictions for Pc Harper’s manslaughter, but this was also rejected as being “wholly unarguable”.

The Court of Appeal did reduce the sentences imposed on the pair for conspiracy to steal, from 38 months’ detention to an 18-month detention and training order given their ages at the time of the offence.

Oxford Mail:

Lissie Harper, widow of Pc Andrew Harper, speaking to the media after leaving the Royal Courts of Justice in central London in November (Yui Mok/PA)

However, Dame Victoria said: “This does not affect the sentences for manslaughter and, because the sentences were concurrent, it does not affect the overall length of the sentences.”

She added: “The effect of our decision is that all three offenders remain convicted of the manslaughter of Pc Harper and the overall length of their custodial sentences remain unaltered.”

Lissie Harper reacted to the news, here is her statement in full: 

"Many months have passed since I sat in a cold and soulless courtroom, awaiting the fate to be given to the criminals who took my husband’s life and our future together. 
 "Many days I have spent fighting against an inadequate sentence and a wrong-doing that I could not accept. 

"I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to the Attorney General and show my respect to her for the decisions she made regarding the undue leniency of this case. 

"I know that she made the right decisions in seeking review of these sentences and regardless of the outcome I am pleased that she holds the same views as myself and so many other law-abiding citizens of this country.

"Today after so much waiting we have finally been given the outcome of these long-awaited decisions regarding these three men, their futures and whether or not justice will ultimately be served.

"Of course, no punishment, no time in prison will ever serve to make up for the theft of someone’s life, and not just someone, but an incredible person who gave without greed or expectation to his fellow man, and I will be eternally proud to call Andrew my husband. 

"I miss him more as each day passes and I will continue to live my life in his honour, with respect, love and an unbreakable moral code.

"I am of course disappointed with this outcome and ultimately feel along with the Attorney General and the majority of our country that these sentences are far too lenient, that they do not reflect the severity and barbarity of the crimes they committed. 

"I continue to feel let down by our justice system and the inadequate laws that we have in place.

"My husband was killed in a barbaric way that has seen the nation shocked. This single act has rocked the lives of so many people who both loved Andrew and those who have watched from afar the heart-breaking story of his death. 

"To take someone’s life surely should mean to have your own freedom taken in return. Yet these criminals will see the light of day far, far earlier than they ever deserve to.

"I remain more determined than ever to do what is right and to ensure we see what should have been in place so long ago. I know now more than ever the importance and requirement for Harper’s Law, which would see those who kill our emergency services heroes receive a life jail sentence.  

"I will fervently continue to fight for the safety and justice that our emergency service heroes so greatly deserve. 

"No person should go to work and never return home. No person who works tirelessly and without gratitude to provide a service to our people should ever be placed in such a position that they lose their lives, and ultimately are not given the respect to even see justice prevail in their name. 

"So along with a mighty team and the support of the public, I will not stop until I see change in our systems.

"I will not give up until Harper’s Law is passed through Parliament and my husband’s death goes to stand for the heroic and honourable service he gave to us all. 

"I hope you will all stand with me in demanding better, striving for more and ultimately giving our protectors the respect they deserve."

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