A week after being found guilty of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper, the three men responsible for his tragic death have been sentenced at the Old Bailey.
Mr Justice Edis made clear in his extensive sentencing remarks, stretching to ten pages, his condemnation for the actions of the trio, stating that:
“…sometimes a case of manslaughter may be very close to a case of murder in its seriousness. That is so here.”
Henry Long, the driver on the night, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were each handed down 13 years in prison. They will not be eligible for release under licence until they have served at least two-thirds of their sentence.
Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, said:
“For many, these sentences will still seem inadequate for the crimes these men have committed, but no outcome would every provide consolation to Andrew’s family. In the last week there has been much talk of the possibility of a retrial. Whilst I understand the public’s frustration, I am not aware of any legal grounds on which such a move could be justified and the comments of the judge today also support this view. We must, however reluctantly, respect the verdict of the jury who heard the details of the case in full.
“In light of the verdict given by the jury last week these sentences are much more significant than many had speculated. They have been given substantial prison terms, and I hope that they will serve the whole of their sentences in custody.
“We will all want to take some time to read today’s judgement in full and understand the details of how Mr Justice Edis reached the sentences he did in this case. I understand this case is being reviewed to the Attorney General to consider if the sentence should be referred to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient. I will await the outcome with great interest, but from my understanding of the law, such an appeal seems unlikely to be successful.
“The tragic death of Andrew has not just affected his family, but also the friends and fellow officers who admired him so much. Support continues to be available to his colleagues His death is a loss to the whole of Thames Valley Police and indeed the whole of the community.
“I would like to add a particular note of thanks to all of the Thames Valley Officers and staff who have been involved in this case, right from the night Andrew died through until today. They have conducted themselves with incredible professionalism, displaying the bravery and impartiality that we would all expect in remarkably difficult circumstances.”
The three men were also sentenced along with Thomas King, aged 21, for conspiracy to steal a quadbike. King, who was not involved in the incident that led to PC Harper’s death, was sentenced to 2 years in prison for conspiracy to steal.