PC Andrew Harper ‘died naked after being dragged along by his ankles on road”

Thames Valley PC Andrew Harper was "swung from side to side like a pendulum" and "died totally naked" after he was dragged down a country lane behind a speeding car, the Old Bailey heard this morning.

PC Harper died from multiple injuries after he responded to reports of a vehicle being stolen and ended up caught in a strap behind the vehicle near Sulhamstead, Berkshire on August 15 last year.

Henry Long, 18, is on trial for his murder.

Two teenagers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also stand accused of murder and all three have already admitted conspiracy to steal a quad bike in relation to the incident.

All three deny the murder charge.

The court heard that PC Harper had been responding to reports of a break in before events that night spiralled out of control.

Opening the case, prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the jury: "Andrew Harper, a serving police constable of Thames Valley Police, was killed in truly shocking circumstances.

"With his ankles caught in a strap that was trailing behind a car being driven at speed along a country lane, he was dragged for over a mile along the road surface, swung from side to side like a pendulum in an effort to dislodge him, losing items of his police uniform along the way, with the rest of his uniform being quite literally ripped and stripped from his body.

"When, at last, he became disentangled, he was left with the most awful injuries, from which he died there on the road, surrounded by colleagues who tried in vain to save him.

"His injuries were simply not survivable, and he could not be saved.

"He died totally naked apart from his socks and boots, and some shredded remnants of the trousers he was wearing.

"This was a completely senseless killing of a young police officer in the line of duty."

Long has admitted manslaughter, which the younger boys also deny.

Several members of PC Harper's family were in court as the prosecution case opened.

PC Harper, known as "Harps" to his colleagues, was part of Thames Valley's Roads Policing Unit, and had been due to work a 10am to 7pm shift that day.

He was still on duty with crew mate PC Andrew Shaw at 11.17pm, and they were driving in an unmarked police BMW fitted with emergency lights.

The pair, who were both wearing uniform, answered the call to the reported theft of the quad bike although it was past the end of their shift.

Mr Altman said: "Despite it being well beyond the end of their shift, because they were close and thought they could help, they responded to the call. It was a decision that was to cost Andrew Harper his life."

Jurors were told that the quad bike theft had been a "carefully planned" criminal enterprise.

The bike had been wheeled away and fixed to the car boot with a crane strap which was wound around the handlebars.

Long drove off with one of the 17-year-olds in the front seat of his Seat car and the other riding the quad bike behind, the court heard.

The defendants had allegedly disconnected brake, side and indicator lights to help them disappear into the night.

When they came across PC Harper and his colleague, the youth on the bike unhitched the strap and tried to get into the Seat, jurors heard.

PC Harper ran behind to intercept him, Mr Altman said: "Illuminated by the rear lights of the police car, as well as by the pulsating blue and white emergency lights, [the youth] could not failed to have seen Pc Harper, who was within feet of him and to have realised he was a police officer in full uniform."

As PC Harper tried to stop him, the officer's feet were encircled in the crane strap, and he was dragged along as Long drove off.

The court heard that Long drove at an average speed of 42.5mph, leaving a snaking trail of tyre marks, blood and clothing as he swerved across the country lane.

The trial continues.

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