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Second juror in Pc Andrew Harper trial discharged amid coronavirus concerns

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

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Pc Andrew Harper (Family Handout/PA)

Pc Andrew Harper (Family Handout/PA)

Pc Andrew Harper (Family Handout/PA)

A second juror in the trial of three teenagers accused of murdering police officer Andrew Harper last August has been discharged amid coronavirus concerns.

Judge Mr Justice Edis told the remaining 10 jurors the case would continue with a reduced number after the second of their colleagues went into self-isolation due to her young son falling ill with symptoms similar to those associated with the coronavirus.

Earlier this week, a first juror went into self-isolation after coming down with a “horrible cold”.

We need to spend as long as it takes to do the trial fairly, we can't rush it because we want to get to the endMr Justice Edis

Addressing the six women and four men on the jury at the Old Bailey on Thursday afternoon, the judge said: “You know where we are at the moment as well as I do.

“You will be hearing news broadcasts and following the guidelines, and keeping yourself safe in these difficult times.

“This is a trial being conducted under unusual circumstances. The critical thing about it is that it must be conducted fairly.”

The judge said the jury should not feel under pressure to continue with the trial.

He said: “We need to spend as long as it takes to do the trial fairly, we can’t rush it because we want to get to the end.

If there is a lockdown in London, we will have to wait and see what those rules areMr Justice Edis

“Don’t feel that you have got to (carry on) and that you’re letting everybody down if you don’t.

“If there is a lockdown in London, we will have to wait and see what those rules are.”

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.

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

The case was opened on March 10 when prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the court Pc Harper, 28, died from multiple injuries when he was pulled along behind a car after responding to the reported theft of a quad bike from a home near the village of Sulhamstead in Berkshire on August 15 2019.

One witness mistakenly thought he had seen a bloodied deer attached to the car before realising it was a man being dragged along, the jury heard.

The court was shown dashcam footage of the trail of blood left on the country lane.

Pc Harper, left wearing only his socks and boots, suffered injuries that were unsurvivable, the court heard.

The jury was told: “This was a completely senseless killing of a young police officer in the line of duty.”

The trial continues.

PA