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Fleeing quad bike thief denies seeing Pc Andrew Harper in pursuit

·3-min read

A teenage thief has denied seeing Pc Andrew Harper chasing him moments before the police officer was dragged to his death.

Jessie Cole, 18, said he was only thinking of getting away after he was “caught red-handed” on a stolen quad bike on the evening of August 15 last year.

He unhooked the bike from a rope and made a run for the moving car which had been towing it, the Old Bailey heard.

He dived through the window of the Seat Toledo and told the occupants, Henry Long and Albert Bowers: “That’s the police, let’s go,” jurors heard.

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
Jessie Cole, in a balaclava, was caught on police car footage as he unhooked a stolen quad bike and ran in Admoor Lane, Berkshire (Thames Valley Police/PA)

Pc Harper was seen on police car footage pursuing Cole on foot moments before he became caught in the tow rope attached to the rear of the Seat.

Long drove off, dragging Pc Harper behind for more than a mile down country lanes, before the officer became detached.

The 28-year-old suffered horrific injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene near the A4 in Berkshire.

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
Screengrab taken from video showing Cole moments before he jumps through the window of the Seat, pursued by Pc Harper on foot (Thames Valley Police/PA)

Giving evidence, landscape gardener Cole described how he had stolen the quad bike with his old friends Long and Bowers.

He had ridden the bike to steer it, as it was towed behind the Seat, driven by Long, with Bowers in the passenger seat.

When they came across Pc Harper’s BMW, Bowers shouted at Cole to unhook the bike and get in as Long manoeuvred around it, jurors heard.

Cole then ran towards the moving car and dived through the window, he said.

Defence barrister Patrick Upward QC asked if he ever turned round or saw Pc Harper?”

The defendant denied it.

Mr Upward said: “Did you hear Pc Harper shout ‘stop police’ or anything like that?”

Cole replied: “No.”

He said: “I was holding my hand on the top of the car. The car was moving slowly, not fast. I grabbed on, jumped through.

“My head landed on Henry and my legs were over the top of Bowers.”

Mr Upward said: “Did you say anything as you came through the window?”

Cole said: “No. All I saw was blue flashing lights.”

He said it meant he “needed to get home” as it was “obviously a police car”.

The defendant said he told the others: “That’s a police car, let‘s go.”

Cole said he never thought the Seat was dragging anything.

“We was speeding, going over humps fast. The exhaust scraping,” he said.

There was shouting inside the car and Long turned the radio up, he added.

Asked what he was thinking at the time, he said: “We were caught red-handed stealing a quad bike. We just wanted to get back and not get caught.”

When he was arrested, Cole said he was “shocked” and thought the police had “got the wrong person”.

Cross-examining, Jonathan Polnay said: “You knew Henry was dragging a police officer.”

Cole replied: “I did not.”

The prosecutor went on: “You did not stop.”

The defendant said: “I did not know he was on the back.”

Cole, Bowers and Long, from near Reading, have admitted conspiring to steal the bike, but denied Pc Harper’s murder.

Long has admitted manslaughter but denied intending to harm the officer.

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