The detective who helped bring the killers of PC Andrew Harper to justice has said they and their families showed “complete contempt” for the police, as he described how they sought to frustrate the investigation at every turn.
Detective Superintendent Stuart Blaik, the senior investigating officer from Thames Valley Police, said Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole had lied constantly and had even tried to get rid of evidence.
He said they had enjoyed the support of their extended family as they tried to deny responsibility for killing the newly married officer who was bravely trying to stop them stealing a quad bike last August.
The three men, who were members of west Berkshire’s traveller community, were arrested at the Four Corners caravan site, just minutes after PC Harper was found lying dead in the road.
But all three sought to frustrate the investigation by inventing false alibis, with Long even claiming he had been sat with his cousins all evening watching the film Fast and Furious.
As he was arrested he told the officer: “Look at me, do I look like a murderer.”
At the police station, the seasoned criminal remarked: “I don’t give a f*** about any of this.”
DS Blaik said throughout the investigation, the three killers had “failed to do the right thing”.
He told the Telegraph: “They told lies, they have tried to get rid of evidence, they have had support from the wider family network all of which frustrated the investigation”
“It was very clear that night early on that they were suspected of one of the most serious offences you could ever imagine, yet they chose to tell lies and say nothing.
“What it shows is the complete contempt for what we were dealing with when they could have and should have done the right thing.”
PC Harper was killed when his ankles became lassoed by a crane strap that the gang were using to tow a stolen quad bike behind their Seat getaway car.
He was dragged for more than a mile, suffering unimaginable injuries, until his body was eventually ripped free.
Long, Bowers and Cole, were all cleared of murder by the Old Bailey jury, but were convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
But the verdicts came under intense scrutiny after allegations of jury tampering emerged.
Thames Valley Police confirmed they received intelligence about possible jury intimidation in the first trial in March, which had to be abandoned because of the lockdown.
Earlier this month one of the jurors in the second trial had to be discharged after she was heard saying “Bye boys” to the defendants at the end of a day’s evidence.
But the trial judge Mr Justice Edis allowed 11 jurors to continue with the case and Thames Valley Police have said there is not a “shred of evidence” that the jury was influenced in any way.
Speaking ahead of the sentencing yesterday, Mr Justice Edis addressed the issue, conceding that the verdicts had caused some controversy.
He said: “I have deliberately avoided reading press reports on it. However, I have been made aware that there has been some discussion about the trial and in particular the measures in place for protection of the jury.
“It may be believed in some quarters the jury were under improper pressure. There is no truth in that at all.”
DS Blaik also said there was no evidence of anything untoward.
He said: “There are no concerns from the investigation team. I know there has been a lot of reporting on this matter and we were in receipt of some intelligence right at the very beginning of the first trial.
“We haven’t had any further intelligence and obviously there was the added complication in the second trial of the discharge of one of the jurors, but there is not a shred of evidence that there has been any malpractice or intimidation of the jurors or anything of that nature.”