PC Andrew Harper murder trial collapses amid coronavirus

Three teenagers deny PC Harper's murder

Monday, March 23, 2020

A senior judge has said he is “deeply sorry” after being forced to halt the trial of the alleged killers of PC Andrew Harper due to coronavirus.

Mr Justice Edis announced the decision to discharge the jury and adjourn the Old Bailey trial with a “heavy heart” after three jurors went into self-isolation.

PC Harper, 28, was killed while on duty in August last year - three teenagers were being tried at the Old Bailey, accused of his murder.

Henry Long, 18, has admitted manslaughter but denies murdering the officer, while two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named, deny both manslaughter and murder.

The judge resisted calls last week to stop the trial after two jurors were discharged, but upon the self-isolation of a third member of the jury over the weekend, he today dismissed the entire panel.

Mr Edis said in a statement: “I have taken this decision with a heavy heart because I am acutely conscious of the need of those who loved Police Constable Harper (who would have been 29 yesterday) for this process to come to a conclusion.

“I am deeply sorry for them. I know also that the colleagues who dealt with the events of that terrible night and who have given evidence will also suffer additional distress because of what has happened.”

He also acknowledged the decision meant a “significant delay” in the trial of the defendants, who remain in custody.

It follows the announcement that all jury trials in England and Wales will be put on hold as part of the ongoing efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said no new trials will start and that ongoing trials will be paused while arrangements are put in place so they can continue safely.

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