| 11.3°C Belfast

Court shown dashcam footage of search for Pc Andrew Harper

The Seat driver, Henry Long, 18, and two 17-year-olds have admitted conspiring to steal a quad bike but have denied murder.

Close

Pc Andrew Harper (Family Handout/PA)

Pc Andrew Harper (Family Handout/PA)

Pc Andrew Harper (Family Handout/PA)

Dashcam footage has been played in court showing the desperate search for Pc Andrew Harper after his feet were “whipped from under him” by a tow rope.

The 28-year-old Thames Valley Police officer was dragged for more than a mile after his feet became entangled in the rope attached to a Seat Toledo car.

Pc Harper, who had been attempting to apprehend quad bike thieves, was knocked unconscious, suffered catastrophic injuries and died at the scene on the evening of August 15 last year.

The Seat driver, Henry Long, 18, and two 17-year-olds have admitted conspiring to steal the quad bike but have denied murder. Long, of Mortimer, Reading, has admitted manslaughter, which his co-accused deny.

Giving evidence in their trial, Pc Andrew Shaw said his crew mate got out of their patrol car when they spotted the Seat, which had been towing the quad bike.

He said: “I could see him running in the road. My first thought was he’s running after the car trying to get in it. It’s what he would have done.

“I thought he was trying to get to the open door, drag them out of the car.

“As the car accelerated, Pc Harper was standing there and he just appeared to fall back as if his feet had been whipped from under him and that’s pretty much the last I saw of him.

“It was so quick you don’t even have time to put your hands out to steady yourself.”

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
Pc Andrew Shaw, who was working with Pc Andrew Harper on the night he was dragged behind a car to his death, arrives at the Old Bailey to give evidence (Yui Mok/PA)

As he reacted to the fast-paced events, Pc Shaw said his biggest concern was that he did not reverse into his colleague.

A call handler had alerted the officers to a burglary in progress near Stanford Dingley in Berkshire, after 11pm on August 15 last year.

She relayed the report of “four masked men outside with weapons, pieces of wood, trying to break into the garage, trying to steal his quad bike”.

In the radio transmissions played in court, Pc Harper responded: “We are with it, we are with it.”

Screengrab showing a quad bike which was attached to a Seat car
Screengrab showing a quad bike which was attached to a Seat car (Thames Valley Police/PA)

Pc Shaw is heard saying: “My colleague Pc Harper got out of the vehicle, ran after the vehicle. I have now lost him.”

He is asked to confirm the location, before a communication from another officer, Pc Christopher Bushnell, states: “There is a body in the road, body in the road. Just fell out of the vehicle.”

Pc Shaw replies: “That’s probably Pc Harper. I’ve just found his stab vest in the road.”

Jurors were shown video footage from the dashboard of Pc Shaw’s car as it drove past bloodied streaks in the road.

It ended with a view of Pc Shaw stopping and rushing over to join an officer standing over Pc Harper, who was lying in the road.

Giving evidence, Pc Bushnell told how he spotted the Seat before Pc Harper became detached from the tow rope.

He said the car looked “menacing” and initially he thought it was dragging a deer carcass.

Pc Bushnell became emotional as he said: “I was not sure what it was.

“After a short period of time after I started to turn the corner, I saw what was being towed behind the vehicle rolling, arms and legs. Just a bloody mess. I just assumed it was a deer.”

Pc Bushnell said he was forced to veer off the road when the Seat came “straight at” him at one point.

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
Court artist sketch of Henry Long, 18, (left) sitting beside a dock officer at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

He told jurors: “I found it intimidating, daunting and it was dominating me.”

Describing the pursuit, he said: “It was like chasing a shadow. It had no lights. It was a country road.”

The officer went on to direct a police helicopter to a nearby caravan site where the Seat was located.

As he completed his evidence, the court was told that it was accepted by all parties that Pc Bushnell did not at any stage strike Pc Harper with his car.

Pc Shaw told jurors he had been a member of the Thames Valley force’s road policing proactive team since 2009, having joined up in 1990.

The advanced police driver said he had known Pc Harper, nicknamed Harps, for about 18 months, adding that he had joined the team six weeks earlier.

On August 15 last year, they had been due to finish their shift at 7pm but, due to a surveillance job, were not stood down until 10pm, he said.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC asked Pc Shaw: “This was well beyond your shift ended. Did that make a difference whether you went to the scene?”

The officer replied: “None at all.”

PA