Berkshire

PC Andrew Harper murder trial: Passenger 'did not see officer'

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 passenger inside a car that dragged PC Andrew Harper to his death says he never saw him during the incident.

Albert Bowers, 18, had been sitting in the front of a Seat Toledo which pulled PC Andrew Harper, 28, by a rope.

Henry Long was driving, and Jessie Cole was another passenger. They were trying to get away after attempting to steal a quad bike in Berkshire last August.

Mr Bowers told the Old Bailey he thought police had "got the wrong person" when he was arrested.

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 on 15 August 2019.

Giving evidence, Mr Bowers, of Moat Close, Bramley, said: "I feel terrible this happened. I wish it hadn't."

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

The court heard he acted as the look-out during the bike theft.

Mr Cole, 18, of Paices Hill near Reading, rode the quad bike, which was towed by a rope attached to the Seat, the jury was told.

The court heard they came across an unmarked BMW police car in Admoor Lane, and Mr Long, 19, from Mortimer, Reading, shouted "police".

Mr Bowers said: "All of a sudden two hands came through my window. That's when I realised it was Jessie trying to get in."

He added that "when he jumped through the window his legs came over me, his hands on to Henry and that's when Henry's shouting 'get off, get off, get off'."

The defendant said he "grabbed" Mr Cole and put him in the back seat so Mr Long could drive.

Defence barrister Timothy Raggatt QC asked: "At any point at all were you ever aware there was anybody else outside your car?"

He replied: "No. Apart from Jessie I did not see nothing."

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

He also denied hearing anything unusual, saying: "There was too much going on in the car - Henry panicking and shouting and music [on the radio was] loud.

He added: "We just wanted to get home. It is hard to remember exactly what happened, so many people shouting. I was shouting, Henry and Jessie was.

"Obviously we knew it was police. We knew we were trying to get away because obviously we nicked the quad."

He said he never looked behind or saw anything "strange".

Cross examining, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC replayed video footage of the incident in slow motion.

He said: "Jessie was running towards the car and then something caused him to turn round and look back to PC Harper.

"The prosecution say once he got into the car he told you he had seen a police officer."

Mr Bowers denied this.

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

The court also heard he told a family member to make sure his phone was not found by the police because he had photos of stolen goods on it.

Mr Bowers told the jury he used WhatsApp to send voice messages, as he could not read or write.

Mr Laidlaw asked: "Were you worried you had said something about the policeman you had killed?"

Mr Bowers replied: "No. I didn't want to get nicked for the thefts I've done."

Mr Laidlaw said: "So serious was the offence you'd committed, killing a policeman, that's why the phone was destroyed."

Mr Bowers denied this, saying it was due to the evidence of theft.

The defendants have admitted conspiring to steal the bike, but deny murdering PC Harper.

Mr Long has admitted manslaughter.

The trial continues.

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