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The Killing of PC Harper: Who killed him, where are they now, and why did they do it?

The police officer died in 2019, leaving his wife Lissie a widow

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The brutal death of PC Andrew Harper in August 2019 left the nation horrified to its core – but who were his killers and where are they now?

Why did they commit such a heinous crime?

Here’s everything you need to know about the disgusting crime and the court case that followed.

***Warning: contains distressing details about PC Harper’s death***

The Killing of PC Harper
Trevor McDonald pictured with PC Harper’s widow Lissie in The Killing of PC Harper: A Widow’s Fight for Justice (Credit: ITV1)

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Who was PC Andrew Harper?

Andrew Harper was born on March 22 1991 in Sulhamstead, Berkshire.

He grew up in Wallingford and attended The Henley College.

A budding police officer, he joined Thames Valley Police as a special constable in 2010 at the age of 19.

He later became a regular police constable in 2011.

He joined Thames Valley Police’s road policing unit approximately six weeks before his death, and was based at the force’s Abingdon station.

On July 18 2019, he had married his childhood sweetheart of 13 years Lissie.

They pledged to spend the rest of their lives together, and had planned to go on honeymoon in mid-August.

Tragically, Andrew died just four week after the wedding.

What happened to him?

The police officer responded to a call to investigate an attempted robbery on August 15 2019.

PC Andrew Harper and PC Andrew Shaw heard that masked men had stolen a quad bike.

Thief Jessie Cole escaped by unhooking the quad bike from their car which had been attached by a tow rope.

PC Harper ran in pursuit of the escaping thief as he tried to make his getaway.

The thieves dragged him for more than a mile along a country road by the car after he stepped into the tow rope and became entangled.

PC Andrew Harper killers
PC Andrew Harper’s killers laughed and joked at their first court hearing (Credit: ITV/Good Morning Britain)

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How did PC Harper die and how old was he?

A coroner gave the verdict that PC Harper’s death was homicide by dragging.

PC Andrew Harper died a hero in the line of duty.

Paramedics pronounced PC Harper’s death at 23:45 on August 15 2019.

He was just 28 years of age.

On August 17 2019, Thames Valley Police’s Major Crimes Unit stated that a post mortem performed the previous day gave Harper’s cause of death as “multiple injuries”.

PC Harper had been “caught between a vehicle and the road, and then dragged for a distance”.

The post mortem also showed that Harper had sustained a “very severe” brain injury.

A pathologist expressed their opinion that PC Harper had lost consciousness when he fell to the ground.

Investigations showed that Harper was dragged one mile (1.6 km) in 91 seconds, with the three teenagers averaging 42.5 miles per hour (68.4 km/h).

An eyewitness mistakenly thought he’d seen the carcass of a bloodied deer, as a result of PC Harper’s catastrophic injuries.

Who killed PC Harper and why?

Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers, 18, and Jessie Cole, also 18, killed PC Harper in Berkshire.

On the night of Harper’s death, the three boys had stolen a quad bike from a property near Stanford Dingley, Berkshire.

The bike’s owner watched on as the theft unfolded.

Peter Wallis called the police, saying: “I have four masked men outside my house.

“They’ve got weapons and they are stealing my quad bike.

“I’m going out there now.”

However, the 999 responder told Peter not to go outside and confront the boys.

PC Andrew Harper and PC Andrew Shaw responded to the call in their unmarked BMW police car.

They caught the drivers of a SEAT Toledo towing the stolen quad bike on Admoor Lane near Bradfield Southend.

Harper, the passenger of the BMW, ran to the suspects’ vehicle.

Tragically, he was caught in the strap used to tow the quad bike as the suspects drove south-east on Lambden’s Hill with Harper “lassoed” to the rear of the SEAT vehicle.

The three teenagers were attempting to get away from the scene of the crime.

PC Andrew Harper's killers Albert Bowers, Jessie Cole, and Henry Long
PC Harper’s killers Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers, 18, and Jessie Cole, 18 (Credit: Shutterstock)

How were PC Harper’s killers caught?

PC Shaw lost sight of the SEAT but found Harper’s stab vest in the road during his pursuit.

At 23:30, he received a radio transmission from another responding officer which warned of “a body in the road”.

Shaw replied that he believed the body was that of Harper.

With the help of a police helicopter and thermal imaging, police officers tracked down the teenagers’ car to a nearby travellers’ site.

The SEAT was found at Four Houses Corner travellers’ site near Burghfield Common

Henry Long protested his innocence as the arrests were made.

He is recorded saying: “Does it look like I’ve done a murder?”

At 00:50 on 16 August, police arrested an 18-year-old male and a 17-year-old male at the caravan site.

They later arrested a 20-year-old man from Pingewood on suspicion of murder.

A second 17-year-old male was also later arrested.

Police arrested 10 males aged between 13 and 30 in the operation, according to reports.

What happened during the trial?

On September 18 2019, Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were charged with murder.

A fourth male, a 21-year-old from Basingstoke, was charged with conspiracy to steal a quad bike and subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge.

On September 19 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service revealed they had discontinued the case against a fifth defendant.

The 20-year-old had previously been charged with the murder.

The trial lasted four weeks.

Mr. Justice Andrew Edis preceded over the trial, which began at the Old Bailey on March 10 2020.

Bowers and Cole – both minors at the time of the offence – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

However, they denied manslaughter.

Long, who was driving the SEAT, had previously admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

All three defendants denied murder.

During the course of the trial, the jury had been given special protection measures.

In court, the jury was shown a computer visualisation of where Andrew Harper was dragged for over a mile.

The prosecution said he was “swung from side to side like a pendulum” in an effort to dislodge him.

Their case for murder was that the teenagers knew the officer was behind the car, and had intended to kill him.

But the jury wasn’t convinced and convicted on manslaughter instead.

PC Andrew Harper
PC Andrew Harper died in the line of duty when he was just 28 years of age (Credit: Shutterstock)

What did the judge charge PC Harper’s killers with?

A judge convicted the three teenagers of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper on July 24 2020.

A judge cleared the three defendants of murder.

At the time, Andrew’s widow expressed her disappointment saying: “I am immensely disappointed with the verdict given today.

“This crime, whatever the outcome deliberated in court, was brutal and senseless.

“The way in which Andrew was robbed of his life we all know to be barbaric and inexplicable.”

After her victim impact statement, she released an open letter imploring Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel to allow a retrial seeking a murder verdict.

Where are PC Harper’s killers now?

In July 2020, a judge found the three teenage males guilty of manslaughter.

They received sentences of 16 and 13 years imprisonment.

The judge sentenced Long to 16 years on July 31 2020.

Both Bowers and Cole received sentences of 13 years in prison.

All three of them appealed against their sentencing.

PC Harper’s wife, Lissie, said: “This update comes as no surprise to me following news that two of them are also seeking leave to appeal against their conviction.

“None of Andrew’s killers have shown any remorse.

“So this is just carrying on the way that they are and have been throughout the past year.

“It is upsetting – but just helps to drive my determination with my campaign calling for Harper’s Law.”

PC Andrew Harper’s killers Albert Bowers, Jessie Cole, and Henry Long are currently serving their sentences in jail.

Andrew Harper and his mum
Andrew Harper and his mum before his tragic death (Credit: Shutterstock)

When was PC Harper’s funeral?

Mourners gathered at PC Harper’s funeral on October 14 2019 at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.

Members of the public lined the streets to watch the funeral procession.

More than 800 people attended the service including Home Secretary Priti Patel and Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran – both of whom later paid respect to Harper in the House of Commons.

His widow Lissie told the congregation that although Andrew was strong, he was also unfailingly kind.

She described him as a gentle giant, with a heart of gold.

There wasn’t a day that passed, she said, where they didn’t tell each other they loved each other.

What is Harper’s Law?

In August 2020, PC Harper’s widow Lissie launched a campaign for a new law.

‘Harper’s Law’ would introduce a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of killing emergency workers – police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, or paramedic.

Speaking outside the court after the hearing, Lissie Harper said: “I stand before you with my heart as heavy as it was those many months ago when I stood feeling let down and angry outside of the Old Bailey.

“Yet today I feel pride in myself for not settling for something that I see as unacceptable.

“Proud to fight for my heroic husband Andrew as I also continue to push for the safety and justice of his fellow emergency services protectors in the future.”

Separately, Harper’s mother launched a campaign to require killers of police officers to receive minimum jail terms of 20 years.

On November 24 2021, the Ministry of Justice announced that they would introduce Harper’s Law in 2022.

LIssie Harper
PC Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie arrives in court (Credit: Shutterstock)

The Killing of PC Harper: A Widow’s Fight for Justice on ITV

Trevor McDonald presents a documentary about the death of police officer Andrew Harper in the line of duty in August 2019.

He reexamines the investigation to catch his killers, and the campaign to change the law by his widow Lissie.

Lissie reads online reports about the lack of remorse shown by the three teenagers found guilty of manslaughter in July 2020.

She expresses her belief that the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

Lissie uses the anger she feels to fuel her campaign Harper’s Law to change the law.

The Killing of PC Harper: A Widow’s Fight for Justice airs on Tuesday March 15 2022 at 9pm on ITV1, and will be available on the ITV Hub.

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