Berkshire

PC Andrew Harper murder trial: Driver 'saw nothing'

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 by dragging him to his death behind a car has told a court he did not hear or see what happened.

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, who denies murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter, told the Old Bailey: "I did not know he was there."

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

It is alleged Mr Long, from Mortimer, Reading, drove up to 42mph, swerving from side to side, in an attempt to dislodge the Thames Valley Police officer.

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

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Henry Long told the court he heard and saw nothing during the getaway

Cross examining Mr Long, Jonathan Laidlaw QC referred to footage taken from PC Harper's patrol car, which appeared to show Mr Cole turn towards the officer before jumping into the Seat.

Mr Laidlaw said the officer, who weighed 90kg, got "within touching distance of the car" and all three defendants "knew perfectly well" that was the case. The defendant denied this.

Mr Laidlaw also accused him of telling a "really cynical lie" about turning music up inside the car to "drown out the voices" of his passengers.

Mr Long replied: "I wanted to concentrate on driving and getting away."

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

The lawyer added: "You and the others have to tell this lie, you have to get something loud to cover up the fact that of course the dragging of PC Harper was causing a lot of noise behind the car and that was why I suggest you invented this lie.

"The truth is you heard all of this but you are not prepared to accept that to the jury, hence the lie about turning the music up.

"So you saw nothing, you heard nothing and you felt nothing?"

The defendant replied: "That's correct."

The prosecutor said: "There were occasions when you deliberately turned the wheel of the vehicle from side to side in an effort to throw PC Harper because that was obstructing your getaway.

"I suppose your mindset was get away at all costs."

But Mr Long replied: "I did not know he was there."

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

The trial continues.

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

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