Berkshire

Coronavirus: Two jurors discharged in PC death trial

PC Andrew Harper was responding to a report of a quad bike theft in Berkshire Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption PC Andrew Harper was responding to a report of a quad bike theft in Berkshire

Two jurors in the trial of three teenagers accused of murdering a police officer have been discharged because they are self-isolating.

One of them developed a fever and another is self-isolating because her son is showing coronavirus symptoms.

The Old Bailey has heard PC Harper died after being dragged along a country road near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, in August.

Henry Long, 18, and two 17-year-old boys deny murder.

The teenagers have been on trial at the Old Bailey since 9 March, but proceedings stopped on Tuesday after a juror fell ill with a "horrible cold".

The court heard the remaining jurors had been asked whether they could carry on in what the judge described as “difficult times”.

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Henry Long (left) and two 17-year-old defendants - who cannot be identified due to their age - have been on trial for murder, which they all deny.

Mr Justice Edis said the information he had was "you are all willing and able to continue” and told them he was happy to continue.

He said: “This is a trial which is being conducted under unusual circumstances and the critical thing about it is that it must be conducted fairly.

"What that means is we need to spend as long as it takes to do the trial fairly.

"We can’t rush it because we want to get to the end."

The judge said jurors should feel “no pressure of any kind to get through it” and if they are “really worried” at any time then they must notify him.

“If there is a lockdown in London, we will have to wait and see what those rules are," he added.

The court has heard distressing details of how PC Harper got caught in a towing strap trailing behind a car that was trying to evade him.

Mr Long, from Mortimer, has admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

The two 17-year-olds, who cannot be named due to their age, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quad bike. The pair also deny manslaughter.

The trial continues.

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