A brave young police officer was killed “in the line of duty” in “truly shocking circumstances” as he attempted to stop three teenagers from stealing a quad bike, a trial has heard.
Pc Andrew Harper was responding to a reported theft four hours past the end of his shift when his ankles got caught in a tow rope attached to the suspects’ getaway car.
He was dragged for more than a mile of winding country road with his uniform gradually stripped from his body.
Such were the extent of Pc Harper’s injuries that an eyewitness said he thought the suspects were towing a deer carcass behind their vehicle.
The 28-year-old policeman had become dislodged by the time his colleague, Pc Andrew Shaw, came across him “barely alive”. Pc Harper died at the scene a short time later.
A pathologist’s report found Pc Harper suffered “a very severe injury to the brain” which is “likely to have rendered him unconscious” after his head struck the ground.
The Old Bailey trial heard Henry Long, 19, drove at an average speed of 42.5mph along the Admoor Lane in Berkshire, near Reading, on the evening of August 15 last year, in such a fashion that the stricken officer was “swung side-to-side like a pendulum in an effort to dislodge him”.
Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC said: “Pc Harper was killed in truly shocking circumstances.
“During the course of that high-speed journey, and until at last he became disentangled, his police uniform was quite literally ripped and stripped from his body.
“Almost naked by this point, Pc Harper was left as you can imagine with the most appalling of injuries, from which he died there on the road.
Long has admitted the manslaughter of the Thames Valley Police officer, but has denied intending to kill him.
He is on trial for murder, along with Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, who were his passengers. Cole and Bowers deny murder.
Cole, from Aldermaston, and Bowers and Long, both from Mortimer, Reading, have admitted conspiring to steal the quad bike.
Jurors were told they had been trying to escape police, having been caught in the act of stealing the bike from Bradfield Southend at 11.17pm.
Mr Laidlaw said the thieves were determined to take the vehicle “whatever the cost”, having been disturbed earlier in the day.
Not only did they have gloves and masks to avoid detection, they had tools with them which might easily have been used as weapons, it was claimed.