Attorney General considers calls to increase 'unduly lenient' sentences of killers of PC Andrew Harper

Charles Hymas
·3-min read
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Jail terms handed to three teenagers who killed PC Andrew Harper have been referred to the Attorney General to determine whether they were too lenient.  

Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years for the manslaughter of PC Harper, while 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were jailed for 13 years each at the Old Bailey on Friday.  

The 28-year-old newlywed, a traffic officer for Thames Valley Police, died on August 15 last year when he tried to stop the trio fleeing after they stole a quad bike in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire.  

On Tuesday the Attorney General's Office confirmed that they have been asked to consider by a “member of the public” if the jail terms handed down are too lenient. Some 22 MPs led by former minister John Hayes also wrote to Suella Braverman making a similar appeal.  

A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said it had received a request for the cases to be considered under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

“The Law Officers have 28 days from sentencing to consider the case," said a spokesman.  

Pc Harper's widow Lissie has expressed disappointment that her husband's killers were cleared of murder and instead found guilty of manslaughter.  

The Attorney General has no power to order a retrial, and prosecutors would either need new and compelling evidence to apply for the acquittals to be quashed, or there would need to be proven interference with the jury.  

Measures were put in place to protect the jury in the Pc Harper case, and one female juror was discharged after she was seen by a prison officer to mouth "Bye boys" to the teenagers in the dock.  

Mr Hayes said the letter had asked the Attorney General to consider whether the sentences were unduly lenient and if there had been appropriate procedures in light of alleged intimidation of jurors.  

Asked if it was lenient, PC Harper’s mother, Debbie Adlam said: "We really felt that. I think because there were so many years knocked off for being of a certain age and for admitting manslaughter early on - the years they are going to do once they have taken out their allowances... to me that's criminal.  

"That is just horrible for us. We've walked away feeling like we've been punched a third time. We've had a not-guilty verdict to murder and now we need some turn-around and that's what we're hoping that this might do.  

"There's been so many people who have been referring to the Attorney General and it's really helpful for us to know that the support is there. This isn't just us being biased, this is the right thing to do."  

The local police federation and PC Harper’s widow have stepped back from taking any action while they assess the fall-out. There are concerns among some supporters that if an appeal was to be considered, it could actually lead to reduced sentences.