Teenager accused of Pc murder ‘thought police had arrested wrong person’

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A teenager has told jurors he thought police had “got the wrong person” when he was arrested over the death of Pc Andrew Harper.

Albert Bowers, 18, was the front passenger in the Seat Toledo which dragged the 28-year-old Thames Valley police officer to his death by a tow rope.

Pc Harper had got out of his vehicle to apprehend suspected quad bike thieves when he became tangled in the strap.

He was pulled along for more than a mile before he became detached, having suffered horrific injuries.

Bowers is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of his murder along with the driver Henry Long, 19, and Jessie Cole, 18.

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
(Left to right) Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers, 18, and Jessie Cole, 18, as they sit in the dock at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

When he was arrested over Pc Harper’s death, he thought police “had the wrong person or something”.

He told jurors: “I feel terrible this happened. I wish it hadn’t.”

On the night of August 15 last year, Bowers had acted as the look-out as he, Long and Cole stole a quad bike from a property in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire.

Long had driven the Seat while Cole rode the bike towed behind by a rope attached to the rear.

When they came across an unmarked BMW police car in Admoor Lane, Long shouted “police”, jurors heard.

Bowers told jurors: “When he said it, I did not know what he was talking about. I can see why he said it now. I could not see. All I could see was the front.

“When we pulled up I started to shout to Jessie to leave the quad.”

As Long pulled the car around the other vehicle, Bowers said he did not see anyone get out and only realised it was a police car when its blue lights started flashing.

Police officer killed in Sulhamstead
An aerial view of the scene at Ufton Lane, near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, where Pc Andrew Harper was killed (Steve Parsons/PA)

Defence barrister Timothy Raggatt QC asked: “Did Jessie say anything?”

Bowers replied: “Not that I remember at all. Everyone was shouting.

“When he jumped through the window his legs came over me, his hands on to Henry and that’s when Henry’s shouting ‘get off, get off, get off’.”

The defendant said he “grabbed” Cole and put him in the back seat so Long could drive.

Mr Raggatt asked: “At any point at all were you ever aware there was anybody else outside your car?”

He said: “No. Apart from Jessie I did not see nothing.”

As they made off, Bowers said the radio, which was tuned in to Kiss or Capital, was turned up and everyone was still shouting.

“I can remember saying to Henry to slow down because (of the) narrow roads and bends,” he said.

Mr Raggatt asked: “Did Jessie say anything about what happened just before he got in the car?”

Bowers said: “He did not say anything.”

He denied hearing anything unusual, saying: “There was too much going on in the car – Henry panicking and shouting and music loud.

“At that point we did not talk about the car, we just wanted to get home. It is hard to remember exactly what happened, so many people shouting. I was shouting, Henry and Jessie was.

“Obviously we knew it was police. We knew we were trying to get away because obviously we nicked the quad.”

Bowers said he never looked behind or saw anything “strange” throughout the whole journey.

Mr Raggatt asked: “Did you ever hear any other sounds apart from all of that?”

Bowers said: “I can remember hearing when we were going round the bend fast, the noise of the tyres because we were going so quick.”

Cross examining, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC replayed video footage of the incident in slow motion.

He said: “Jessie was running towards the car and then something caused him to turn round and look back to Pc Harper.

“The prosecution say once he got into the car he told you he had seen a police officer.”

Bowers denied the suggestion or that he had seen Pc Harper himself.

The court heard Bowers told a family member to make sure his phone was not found by the police, telling the jury it was because he had photos of stolen goods on them.

Bowers told the jury that he uses WhatsApp to send voice messages, as he cannot read or write.

Mr Laidlaw said: “Were you worried you had said something about the policeman you had killed?”

Bowers replied: “No. I didn’t want to get nicked for the thefts I’ve done.”

Mr Laidlaw later added: “So serious was the offence you’d committed, killing a policeman, that’s why the phone was destroyed.”

Bowers denied this, reiterating it was due to the evidence of theft.

The defendants, from near Reading in Berkshire, have admitted conspiring to steal the bike but deny murder.

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

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