Teenagers sentenced to 42 years in jail for killing British policeman

General view shows Old Bailey central criminal court in London. — Reuters pic
General view shows Old Bailey central criminal court in London. — Reuters pic

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LONDON, July 31 — Three British teenagers were sentenced to a combined 42 years in jail by a judge today for killing a policeman who was dragged behind a car for more than a mile, in a case that shocked the country.

In August last year, the trio were stealing a quad bike when approached by 28-year-old officer Andrew Harper who chased the group’s car, getting caught in a tow rope and being dragged for 1.4 miles (2.25 km) down a country lane. His fatally injured body became detached from the vehicle and was left in the road.

Henry Long, 19, the driver, and his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were found guilty of manslaughter, but were cleared of murder last year.

At the Old Bailey today, Long was sentenced to 16 years in jail. Cole and Bowers were both sentenced to 13 years in jail.

Earlier this week, Harper’s widow wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for a retrial after her husband’s killers were cleared of murder. A spokesman for the prime minister said he would respond after legal proceedings had been completed.

An initial trial was abandoned after a nationwide lockdown in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. For the retrial, the judge ordered extra security amid fears of potential juror intimidation by supporters of the defendants.

The prosecution argued the defendants were aware the officer was being dragged behind the car. But the teenagers’ lawyers claimed the incident could not have been planned. — Reuters

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