10:40, August 19 147 0 theguardian.com

2020-08-19 10:40:04
Two of PC Andrew Harper's killers launch appeals against convictions

Two of PC Andrew Harper’s killers have launched appeals against their manslaughter convictions, prompting dismay from the policeman’s family.

Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, have lodged applications with the court of appeal seeking permission to challenge their convictions and sentences for their part in dragging Harper to his death just over a year ago.

Last month they were both sentenced to 13 years in a young offender institution. The ringleader, Henry Long, 19, who has not appealed against his conviction, was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Harper’s mother, Debbie Adlam, said: “We clearly didn’t get the justice that we all felt we deserved – but this application to appeal both conviction and sentence is a further kick in the stomach.

“We will obviously have to leave it up to the judicial system but I’d like to think that I do not live in a country where people can be involved in taking a life whilst committing a crime and be allowed to walk away from it and serve anything other than a lengthy custodial sentence.”

The appeals came as Harper’s widow launched a petition to show the level of public support for tougher jail terms for people who kill emergency services workers, dubbed “Harper’s Law”.

Lissie Harper, who is trying to secure a meeting about the idea with the home secretary, Priti Patel, declined to comment on the appeals.

But on her campaign for tougher sentences, she said: “Ultimately if somebody goes out and makes a decision to do something in a criminal way that has the result of killing someone who is a police officer, a nurse, a doctor, even people in the fire service, they should expect to receive an appropriate sentence for it.”

She added: “Henry Long could be out in just over 10 years, whereas Andrew doesn’t have his life.”

Harper died last August when he was dragged down country lanes behind a car driven by fleeing quad bike thieves, near Sulhamstead, Berkshire.

The three teenagers were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

The attorney general’s office has been asked to review the killers’ sentences to consider if they were too lenient. It may refer their cases to the court of appeal for judges to consider whether the sentences should be increased.

Lissie Harper went on: “I’ve had a lot of messages saying, ‘what can we do, how can we help? We support Harper’s Law’.

“This is something that we want people to do, we want them to sign and share the petition as much as possible, just to show how much support there is for it and how many people want this.”

No date has been set for the appeals hearings.