The sentences given to three teenagers for the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper will not be changed, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Judges dismissed challenges from the Attorney General, who argued the sentences were ‘unduly lenient’ and the killers, who called for the sentences to be reduced.
Henry Long, 19, and passengers, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were jailed at the Old Bailey in July for manslaughter.
The jury found them not guilty of murder after deliberating for 12 hours following a trial.
Driver Long received 16 years in prison for manslaughter, and the passengers were both sentenced to 13 years each, totalling 42 years for the offence.
In the Court of Appeal’s written judgement, Dame Victoria Sharp said: ‘No one doubts the seriousness of the offending in this case.
‘No one doubts the importance of the fact that the victim was a police officer engaged in performing his duty in the service of the public.
‘No one doubts the gravity of the harm caused, involving as it did not only the death of PC Harper in dreadful circumstances, but also the anguish suffered by his bereaved family.
‘As the [trial] judge rightly said, PC Harper’s family have the profound sympathy of the nation.
‘The issues before this court must, however, be resolved in accordance with the law.’
Dame Victoria reminded the court the sentences were for manslaughter, not murder.
‘Mere disagreement with his decisions as to the nature and length of the appropriate sentences provides neither a ground for finding the sentencing to have been unduly lenient nor a ground for finding a sentence to have been wrong in principle or manifestly excessive,’ she added.
At a hearing in November, Attorney General Suella Braverman said their sentences should be increased, for an offence that was ‘as serious a case of manslaughter as it is possible to envisage’.
But lawyers representing Long, Cole and Bowers, who appeared by video link from HMP Belmarsh, argued their sentences were too long and should be reduced.
PC Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie said she was ‘disappointed’ with the Court of Appeal decision.
‘I miss him more as each day passes’
In a statement, she said: ‘Many months have passed since I sat in a cold and soulless courtroom, awaiting the fate to be given to the criminals who took my husband’s life and our future together.
‘Many days I have spent fighting against an inadequate sentence and a wrong-doing that I could not accept.
‘I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to the Attorney General and show my respect to her for the decisions she made regarding the undue leniency of this case.
‘I know that she made the right decisions in seeking review of these sentences and regardless of the outcome I am pleased that she holds the same views as myself and so many other law-abiding citizens of this country.
‘Today after so much waiting we have finally been given the outcome of these long-awaited decisions regarding these three men, their futures and whether or not justice will ultimately be served.
‘Of course, no punishment, no time in prison will ever serve to make up for the theft of someone’s life, and not just someone, but an incredible person who gave without greed or expectation to his fellow man, and I will be eternally proud to call Andrew my husband.
‘I miss him more as each day passes and I will continue to live my life in his honour, with respect, love and an unbreakable moral code.
‘I am of course disappointed with this outcome and ultimately feel along with the Attorney General and the majority of our country that these sentences are far too lenient, that they do not reflect the severity and barbarity of the crimes they committed.
‘I continue to feel let down by our justice system and the inadequate laws that we have in place.’
Newlywed PC Harper, 28, was one of two Thames Valley Police officers who responded to a attempted theft of a £10,000 quad bike on the evening of August 15 last year in Berkshire.
But after getting out of his patrol car to chase after a suspect, his ankles became entangled in a crane strap attached to the boot of Long’s Seat Toledo.
Long drove off at ‘breakneck’ speed, dragging the officer for more than a mile along winding country lanes.
The trial had heard how the officer was ‘swung side-to-side like a pendulum in an effort to dislodge him’ and suffered ‘the most appalling of injuries’. He died on the road in the line of duty.
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