The teenage driver who showed ‘no remorse’ for causing the death of Pc Andrew Harper has been cleared of the ‘brave’ officer’s murder.
Henry Long, 19, along with thieving accomplices Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were determined to escape ‘at all costs’ after stealing a quad bike in Berkshire and had threatened to ‘ram’ police.
Newlywed Pc Andrew Harper, 28, became entangled in a tow rope attached to their Seat Toledo as he tried to catch them and was dragged to his death.
Long was acquitted of murder at the Old Bailey on Friday, but the trio still face years in jail for manslaughter.
Long drove off at “breakneck” speed, dragging the Thames Valley Police officer for more than a mile along country lanes before he was dislodged, having suffered horrific injuries.
The teenagers admitted plotting the theft and Long pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but each denied knowing that Pc Harper was there.
Their defence claimed the incident was a “freak event” that none of them could have planned or foreseen.
But the prosecution said at more than 6ft and weighing 14 stone, the defendants must have been aware Pc Harper was being dragged to his death.
A reconstruction suggested that rather than stopping, Long swerved in the road to try to throw him off. Jurors also saw dashcam footage that appeared to catch the moment Cole turned towards the officer before diving through the window of the getaway car and making his escape.
Pc Harper’s tearful widow Lissie was comforted by family members as the verdicts were delivered.
Mr Justice Edis adjourned sentence until 31 July.
It can now be reported that Long had previously threatened to “ram” a police officer as he chatted with a police community support officer (PCSO).
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.”
Pc Harper suffered horrific injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene near the A4 in Berkshire.
Driver Long, and passengers Bowers and Cole, from near Reading, admitted conspiring to steal a quad bike but had denied murder.
Long admitted manslaughter but denied intending to harm the officer.
The court previously heard that on the night of Pc Harper's death, the defendants had set out to steal the quad bike and then escape in a getaway car with disabled lights.
Long was alleged to have been going at speeds of some 42mph along country lanes, swerving from side to side, in an attempt to dislodge him.
In his evidence, Long denied seeing or hearing the officer or being alerted by his passengers Cole and Bowers that he was there.
However, frames from footage taken from Pc Harper's patrol car appeared to show Cole turn towards the officer before he jumped into the car after unhooking a stolen quad bike.
Pc Harper, known as ‘Harps’ to his colleagues, was part of Thames Valley’s Roads Policing Unit, and had been due to work a 10am to 7pm shift that day.
He was still on duty with crew mate Pc Andrew Shaw at 11.17pm, and they were driving in an unmarked police BMW fitted with emergency lights.
The pair, who were both wearing uniform, answered the call to the reported theft of the quad bike although it was past the end of their shift.