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Police officer dragged ‘like a rag doll’, court hears

Andrew Harper died in August last year after he became tangled in a crane strap attached to the boot of a car.

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Pc Andrew Harper who was killed in August last year (Family handout/PA)

Pc Andrew Harper who was killed in August last year (Family handout/PA)

Pc Andrew Harper who was killed in August last year (Family handout/PA)

A police officer killed when he was dragged along by a car was thrown around “like a rag doll”, a court has heard.

Pc Andrew Harper died from multiple injuries when he became tangled in a crane strap attached to the boot of a Seat Toledo on August 15 last year.

He was responding to the reported theft of a quad bike from a home near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire.

One witness who saw him being dragged along, Jack Whittenham, mistakenly thought he had seen an injured deer.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the Old Bailey: “It was Mr Whittenham who thought it was a bloodied deer attached to the car, but he quickly realised it was someone trapped by both ankles with arms flailing around, as he described it, like a rag doll, being dragged around the road.

“He saw the whole body striking the kerb on the other side of the road.”

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)

Pc Harper’s belongings were found strewn along the route where he was dragged, with his police badge, ID card, driving licence and pocket notebook among items recovered from the bloodied road surface.

The officer’s iPhone was on a grass verge near a wooden stake that had been “scythed down” when Pc Harper’s body struck it, Mr Altman said.

Marks on the road provided evidence of the “violence” of the driving, he told the jury.

Henry Long, 18, from Mortimer, Reading, and two 17-year-olds, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all deny murdering the Thames Valley Police officer in August last year.

They all admit conspiring to steal the quad bike and Long has admitted the manslaughter of Pc Harper, which the younger boys deny.

Pc Harper suffered “utterly catastrophic” injuries, the court heard, and even though he was breathing when he was found in the road, his injuries were unsurvivable and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jurors were told that, as the alleged killers tried to escape, they drove straight at a police car in their bid “not to get caught at all costs”.

A police officer in pursuit of the suspects had paused at a fork in the road when he saw the Seat heading back towards him.

Mr Altman said the vehicle came straight at him very quickly, forcing him to veer to the left as it passed, narrowly missing him.

He said: “In his view, the driver had deliberately chosen to drive straight at him.

“This evidence further demonstrates the defendants’ determination to escape and not get caught at all costs.”

The court was shown video footage from a police helicopter that showed the “very, very hot” Seat stopped at the Four Houses Corner caravan site after the killing.

PA