WITNESS accounts have been heard in court at the trial of Pc Andrew Harper, which was reopened today (June 23).

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Jonathan Laidlaw QC, the prosecutor in the trial of three teenagers for the murder of Pc Andrew Harper, opened the case this morning.

The court heard how the 28-year-old was dragged for more than a mile of winding country road, after his ankles got caught in a tow rope attached to the thieves' car.

Henry Long, 19, drove at speed along the lane in Berkshire 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", the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Laidlaw said the defendants attached a strap between their Seat Toledo and the handlebars of the quad bike.

He said: "They had thought through and carefully planned the offence.

"Of one thing the prosecution will say you can be sure is this: at whatever the cost, these three defendants were quite determined that they should get away without being caught."

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Mr Laidlaw said Pcs Harper and Shaw, in an unmarked BMW, drove onto Admoor Lane where they came face-to-face with the Seat Toledo, driven by Long.

In the next 15 seconds Cole removed the loop of strapping from the handlebars of the quad bike, Mr Laidlaw told the court.

With the strapping laying loose on the ground, Cole then tried to get into the Seat car but was unable to, he said.

The policemen switched their blue and white emergency lights on, and Pc Harper ran to intercept Cole - coming "pretty close" to grabbing the suspect - before Cole "dived" through one of the windows.

Describing the moment Pc Harper got caught in the strapping, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told jurors: "What of course Pc Harper had not seen, but each of these defendants would have known, was that the loop of strapping now on the ground and being dragged behind the Seat was still attached to the hinge of the boot lid of the vehicle.

"With Jessie Cole now in the car, Henry Long drove off at speed, flooring the accelerator to make good their escape.

"Tragically, at that very moment and still in the act of chasing Jessie Cole down, Pc Harper must have quite unwittingly stepped, with both feet, into the loop made of the strapping trailed behind the Seat.

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"Henry Long, sped off, PC Harper was lassoed around his ankles by the loop of the strap. It will be obvious to you all that none of the defendants could possibly have intended that that should happen."

Mr Laidlaw said all three defendants should have known the consequences of their actions.

"The officer would be killed. It would be a virtual certainty," the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said Pc Andrew Shaw, Pc Andrew Harper's colleague, "quickly realised something was very wrong" when Pc Harper disappeared from view while trying to apprehend the suspect.

Pc Shaw turned his vehicle around, expecting to find Pc Harper waiting for him.

Pc Shaw later discovered his colleague's body.

Mr Laidlaw said: "Pc Harper died soon after where he lay in Ufton Lane in the company of fellow officers who had tried desperately to save him."

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He said the three defendants failed in their initial attempt to steal the quad bike, valued at £10,000, on the afternoon Pc Andrew Harper died, having been confronted by the homeowner.

But they returned at around 11.10pm, wearing masks.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said the homeowner contacted the emergency services, saying there were masked men holding "weapons", trying to take his quad bike.

The suspects drove off, with Cole on the quad bike, the court heard.

Moments later, they came face-to-face with Pc Andrew Harper and his colleague Pc Andrew Shaw.

Jurors heard Pc Shaw's description of Pc Harper disappearing from view was "as if he had lost his footing while water skiing".

The prosecutor said: "In other words his feet being whipped forward and his body being thrown back.

"That is a description supported by the findings at post-mortem examination, where the pathologist found that Pc Harper had suffered a very severe injury to the brain which is likely to have rendered him unconscious."

One witness heard tyres screeching, which jurors were told "sounded like a wheel without a tyre on it".

The prosecutor said the witness "could hear the sound of something hitting the hedgerow," as if the driver was drunk and was hitting the sides of the road as they drove.

The prosecutor said a police officer arriving at the scene recognised the body to be his colleague Pc Harper.

Jonathan Laidlaw said he had "sustained utterly catastrophic injuries", and was declared dead at the scene at 11.45pm.

The case was adjourned until 10.30am on Wednesday.

The trial continues.