Berkshire

PC Andrew Harper murder trial: Murder accused 'was scared so set up film alibi'

PC Andrew Harper Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption PC Harper died after his ankles became entangled in a tow strap attached to a car

A man accused of murdering a police officer said he claimed to be elsewhere watching a Fast and Furious film because he was "scared".

Henry Long, 19, was trying to evade arrest after attempting to steal a quad bike in Berkshire, on 15 August 2019.

PC Andrew Harper, 28, was dragged behind a Seat Toledo along country lanes for more than a mile.

Mr Long originally claimed to be watching the film about illegal car chases and racing at the time.

The Old Bailey previously heard PC Harper died in "truly shocking circumstances" when his ankles got caught by a strap used to tow the bike from a house in Stanford Dingley.

Mr Long, from Mortimer, Reading, was later arrested at Four Houses Corner caravan site.

He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but says he had no idea that PC Harper, from Wallingford, Oxfordshire, had been attached to the car.

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Henry Long told the court he lied about watching a Fast and Furious film because he was scared

Mr Long told jurors he could not sleep and thought about PC Harper's family and how they felt.

But Mr Long said he lied during his first police interview about watching the Fast And Furious film with relatives because he was "scared".

Prosecuting, Jonathan Laidlaw QC said: "You knew perfectly well the first thing [the police] would do would be to go to Four Corners caravan site and ask your aunt and uncle if it was true.

"Immediately you got back to the site, shortly after Andrew Harper had died, you had begun to prepare a false alibi."

Mr Long denied this.

The prosecutor asked: "Of all things you were going to pretend you had watched, what was it you said? It was Fast And Furious.

"That was involving what? Illegal car chases and racing?"

The defendant replied: "That's correct."

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Left to right: Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole deny murder

Mr Laidlaw continued: "And you thought that was the appropriate lie to tell police in the circumstances?"

He repeated he was "scared".

The prosecutor added: "You knew perfectly well you dragged PC Harper to his death. You had set out to tough this out."

Mr Long replied: "That's not correct."

Mr Laidlaw continued: "The truth, I suggest, Mr Long, is you did not and don't care at all really about PC Harper and what has happened to him. The only person you care about is yourself."

"Not true," Mr Long replied.

Image caption The strap PC Harper got caught in was attached to a Seat Toledo

The lawyer suggested that Long boasted of his ability to drive at "breakneck speed".

Mr Long said: "I'm not the best driver but I can drive."

But Mr Laidlaw said the jury had been shown a "terrifying" video of an advance police driver trying to recreate the route taken on the night, from where PC Harper came loose to the caravan site.

He said: "Do you know you were able to drive that run quicker than that advanced driver - over 30 seconds quicker?

"It just gives an indication of how fast you were prepared to drive that night because you had killed a policeman and you knew it."

His passengers on the night, Albert Bowers, of Moat Close, Bramley, and Jessie Cole, of Paices Hill near Reading, both 18, have also denied murdering the Thames Valley Police officer.

All three have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

The trial continues.

Image copyright TVP
Image caption PC Harper was dragged for more than a mile by the escaping car

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