‘Stay with me…keep breathing’: Colleague reveals he desperately tried to save murdered PC19 min read

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A colleague of the newlywed police officer who was killed while responding to reports of a burglary begged the fallen officer to ‘stay with me, keep breathing’ as he lay dying in a country lane.

A witness told of the heartbreaking scenes as fellow officers fought to save PC Andrew Harper, 28, after he was mown down on Thursday night, just four weeks after he married his fiancée Lissie.

The householder, who asked not to be named, came out of his home at around 11.30pm on Thursday after hearing a commotion in a lane off the A4 near Reading.

As police worked inside forensic tents near the property yesterday, the witness said: ‘When I came outside I could see one patrol car facing the A4 and the other facing in the other direction. The officer’s crewmate was shouting, saying “Stay with me, stay with me. Keep breathing.” Those words will stay with me.

Newlywed PC Andrew Harper had married his fiancée Lissie on July 18, and they were due to go on honeymoon together next week

PC Harper was allegedly struck by a car in Berkshire and dragged under it for a distance

PC Harper was allegedly struck by a car in Berkshire and dragged under it for a distance

The incident at 11.30pm Thursday took place next to the 12-bedroom Braeburn Lodge care home for the elderly (pictured: PC Andrew Harper)

The incident at 11.30pm Thursday took place next to the 12-bedroom Braeburn Lodge care home for the elderly (pictured: PC Andrew Harper)

‘He was crouched over the officer’s body, which was lying on the lane.

‘Ambulances and more police cars arrived – it was like the Blackpool illuminations. I went out into the lane to see if the police needed any help and an officer turned to me and said: “Leave the area – this is a crime scene.”’

Asked if there was a police pursuit in the run-up to PC Harper being hit by the vehicle, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell said only that his fallen officer had been involved in a ‘response to a reported burglary’.

The senior officer said PC Harper was a ‘highly regarded, popular member of the team’ who was known across the force.

He said the traffic officer – based at Abingdon, Oxfordshire, around 30 miles from where the incident happened – had been outside his marked patrol car when he was ‘dragged along by a vehicle’, in what was ‘obviously a very distressing’ incident for the colleagues who witnessed it.

Pictured: Police officers at a travellers' camp near the scene where PC Harper was killed

Pictured: Police officers at a travellers’ camp near the scene where PC Harper was killed

Police officers at the scene today in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, after a detective was killed

Police officers at the scene today in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, after a detective was killed

Police leave flowers at the scene

A man lays a bunch of flowers near to where Thames Valley Police office Andrew Harper was killed

Flowers are laid near where Thames Valley Police office Andrew Harper was killed 

Mr Campbell said it had been ‘an extremely dark day’ for his force – and said the fact PC Harper had only been married four weeks added to the force’s ‘angst’ and to that of PC Harper’s family.

He declined to say whether the vehicle which hit PC Harper, who joined the force as a special constable in 2010 and became a police officer a year later, was stolen.

The force’s flags were flying at half-mast as a sign of respect ‘in honour and memory of Andrew’, he said, adding: ‘The officer was well-known across the force so it is felt very personally… by the whole police family.’

The incident took place at the crossroads of Ufton Lane and Lambdens Hill, near the village of Sulhamstead – close to Bucklebury where the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton live.

PC Harper(pictured)  had been planning to take part in a charity run at the Dirty Weekend 2020 Burghley, a 20-mile obstacle course, for Children with Cancer UK

PC Harper(pictured)  had been planning to take part in a charity run at the Dirty Weekend 2020 Burghley, a 20-mile obstacle course, for Children with Cancer UK

PC Harper had married his fiancee Lissie Harper just a month ago and were starting a new life together as a married couple

PC Harper had married his fiancee Lissie Harper just a month ago and were starting a new life together as a married couple

Pictured: Officers lay flowers at the scene where PC Andrew Harper was killed in Berkshire

Pictured: Officers lay flowers at the scene where PC Andrew Harper was killed in Berkshire

Andy Fiddler, from the Thames Valley Police Federation, added: ‘This is totally devastating news.

‘All our thoughts – and the thoughts of the entire police family across the UK – are with the family, friends and close colleagues of PC Andrew Harper.’

Last night, Anthony Stansfeld, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘I speak for everybody at Thames Valley Police when I say that I am deeply shocked and saddened by the death of PC Andrew Harper while on duty. He was a young officer, only recently married, and looking forward to a long and successful career.

‘Today, assaults on police officers have become far too common. I am concerned that attacks on police officers are no longer regarded within some communities with the same level of seriousness as they were previously.

PC Harper is pictured with his mother Deborah. He has been praised by his relatives

PC Harper is pictured with his mother Deborah. He has been praised by his relatives

Police remained at the scene today, which was still cordoned off while evidence was gathered (pictured: PC Harper with a friend)

Police remained at the scene today, which was still cordoned off while evidence was gathered (pictured: PC Harper with a friend)

‘In the past, most criminals were careful not to attack a police officer. But as sentences across the board have become more lenient, so the number of assaults increased. There would seem to be a clear correlation.

‘The tragic death of PC Harper is a wake up call for our criminal justice system. That it happened is a sad reflection on society today.

‘The majority of the public are law-abiding, but we have a small hardcore who cause a totally disproportionate amount of crime. I hope that this can now be addressed.

‘It is not as if this problem has come as a surprise. It must now be dealt with.’

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said it had been made aware of the officer’s death, due to possible issues around a police pursuit, but is not investigating. 

Four weeks ago, PC Andrew Harper was posing for pictures on his wedding day.

He cut the cake with new wife Lissie next to a sign reading ‘Happily Ever Harper’.

But yesterday it emerged the officer was the latest victim of Wild West Britain when he was mown down and ‘dragged along by a vehicle’ while responding to a burglary in Berkshire.

Ten people – including a boy of 13 – have been arrested after what Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as a ‘mindless and brutal’ crime. PC Harper and his bride were due to go on honeymoon next week, but late on Thursday night the couple’s dreams were shattered in the cruellest fashion when the officer lost his life in the line of duty.  

Society has ‘less fear of the police’, officer says after machete attack

The boss of the officer stabbed by a machete said last week that people in modern day society have ‘less fear of the police’.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker on Good Morning Britain last week

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker on Good Morning Britain last week

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker is head of the unit including Stuart Otten, who was attacked last Thursday in Leyton, East London.

He said that the attack which shocked the nation was a ‘symptom of people having less fear of the police’.

Mr Tucker added: ‘It’s shocking, but unfortunately it’s not uncommon. I’ve been in police for a long time — there’s certainly a sense of a lack of respect, not just for police but for authority.’ 

A witness said he heard an officer yelling: ‘Stay with me, stay with me, keep breathing,’ as PC Harper lay fatally injured in the road. Last night, just over two miles from the crime scene, police were searching a travellers’ site, strewn with litter and children’s toys.

PC Harper’s death triggered a fresh debate over the level of serious crime on Britain’s streets. Only yesterday, Richard Atkins QC, the chairman of the Bar Council, warned that criminals were ‘going about their business unchallenged’.

MPs from all parties were united in their condemnation of the murder, describing it as ‘sickening’ and saying police officers had been left ‘dangerously exposed’.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who declared last month that she wanted to see criminals ‘feel terror’ on the streets, said she was ‘devastated and appalled’ by PC Harper’s murder.

Mr Johnson, who has pledged to hire another 20,000 police officers to get a grip of the problem, said he was ‘shocked and appalled’ and admitted ‘we are seeing too much violent crime on our streets’.

PC Harper’s devastated family described the officer – a ‘highly regarded’ member of Thames Valley Police – as ‘the loveliest person that you will ever meet’.

PC Harper, who became a regular officer in 2011 after joining as a special constable a year earlier, had attended the reported break-in near the village of Sulhamstead with a colleague at 11.30pm on Thursday night.

While it is unclear exactly what happened or what was being targeted in the burglary, PC Harper was injured on a lane just off the A4 Bath Road between Reading and Newbury – a crossroads next to the 12-bedroom Braeburn Lodge care home.

At an emotional press conference, Chief Constable John Campbell said officers were working ‘hard and diligently to find out what happened’. He said: ‘What we do know is Andrew had been dragged along by a vehicle’, adding that all ten suspects had been arrested within an hour of the incident.

Ten people were arrested on suspicion of murder after the incident in Berkshire on Thursday

Ten people were arrested on suspicion of murder after the incident in Berkshire on Thursday

PC Harper's family including his grandmother Maureen and uncle Dale have paid tribute

PC Harper’s family including his grandmother Maureen and uncle Dale have paid tribute

A resident in nearby Burghfield said a police helicopter hovered over a travellers’ site from midnight until about 4am yesterday.  

PC Harper married Lissie, also 28, in Oxfordshire on July 18 in the grounds of Ardington House, a listed stately home built in 1720.

Mrs Harper posted wedding pictures online and said the couple ‘could not have asked for more’. She added: ‘The sun was shining and the venue was incredible.’

PC Harper’s uncle Dale Shrimpton, 56, said: ‘We are devastated. He was the loveliest person that you will ever meet. I can’t begin to tell you how we feel. We all loved him very much. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body.’

Met Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar wrote on Twitter: ‘So sad to read this. PC Harper was the officer in the case when my then husband was arrested for domestic violence in 2016. He was on Thames Valley Response then.

The adventurous couple, shown here taking a selfie as on a river on an exotic holiday, were due to go on honeymoon imminently

The adventurous couple, shown here taking a selfie as on a river on an exotic holiday, were due to go on honeymoon imminently

The couple's family spoke with great pride about the bravery he had shown as his life was taken in the line of duty

The couple’s family spoke with great pride about the bravery he had shown as his life was taken in the line of duty

The couple married at the luxurious location of Ardington House in Oxfordshire last month

The couple married at the luxurious location of Ardington House in Oxfordshire last month

A police investigator at the scene of the incident after the officer was killed in Sulhamstead

A police investigator at the scene of the incident after the officer was killed in Sulhamstead

‘He was brilliant and gave me the courage to take steps to change my life. I can’t thank him enough. He was a top officer.’

PC Harper’s death comes after PC Stuart Outten was stabbed in the head in Leyton, east London, on August 8. Days later a 42-year-old West Midlands Police officer suffered serious injuries when he was run over with his own vehicle.

Mr Johnson said: ‘The murder of PC Andrew Harper is a mindless and brutal crime and obviously all our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his colleagues.

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‘When I think of the bravery that PC Andrew Harper showed in intercepting those criminals, I think of the risks that the police run every day to keep us safe.’

Police at the scene

Flowers arrive at the scene today

Police at the scene as a man lays a bunch of flowers near where the officer was killed

Police officers at the scene on the crossroads of Ufton Lane and Lambdens Hill in Sulhamstead

Police officers at the scene on the crossroads of Ufton Lane and Lambdens Hill in Sulhamstead

He added: ‘This is a very rare occurrence, it is an absolute tragedy that a police officer should lose his life in the course of his duties and of course we will do everything we can to keep our officers safe.’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the death highlighted the need for a boost to police numbers. He added: ‘Let’s just think for a moment of the horror of it, but also for the need for more police officers to be able to respond to disorder in our society.’

Home affairs committee chairman Yvette Cooper said: ‘Police officers like PC Harper demonstrate extraordinary bravery every day, and his death is a tragic reminder of the immense sacrifices made to keep us safe.’

MPs unite to condemn ‘sickening’ murder of brave PC 

By Larisa Brown, Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail 

Police officers have been left ‘dangerously exposed’ and the streets ‘unsafe’ as a result of Government cuts, MPs said yesterday.

Condemning the ‘sickening murder’ of PC Harper, MPs called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to ‘get a grip’ and bring an end to the ‘terrifying rise in violent crime’.

They also called for tougher jail terms for those who attacked officers, after shocking figures revealed how many offenders dodged prison altogether.

Independent MP John Woodcock said: ‘The whole country will feel sorry at the terrible death of PC Harper and fury at the way sick criminals felt able to target a police officer as he tried to serve the public. The new Home Secretary must get a grip of the terrifying rise in violent crime on our streets.’

PC Andrew Harper, who got married four weeks ago, died on 15 August 2019 in Berkshire, while attending a reported burglary (pictured: The scene)

PC Andrew Harper, who got married four weeks ago, died on 15 August 2019 in Berkshire, while attending a reported burglary (pictured: The scene)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was 'deeply shocked and appalled' by the death of PC Harper, adding that his thought's were with his family, friends and colleagues

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was ‘deeply shocked and appalled’ by the death of PC Harper, adding that his thought’s were with his family, friends and colleagues

'It is the most powerful reminder that police officers up and down the country put themselves at risk every single day to keep us safe,' he said

‘It is the most powerful reminder that police officers up and down the country put themselves at risk every single day to keep us safe,’ he said

Earlier this week it emerged the number of prolific offenders avoiding prison for assaulting police officers had almost doubled over the past decade.

This was despite soaring levels of attacks, with frontline officers increasingly being bitten, punched and kicked on duty, according to The Times.

Police pay tribute with ‘thin blue line’ image on social media profiles

Police officers paid tribute to PC Harper today by posting a picture in their social media profiles of a thin blue line.

The thin blue line image used by police in social media tributes to PC Harper today

The image is representative of the phrase which refers to the position of police in society.

Among those changing their profile pictures was Melissa Todd, who said of PC Harper: ‘An amazing friend and colleague. My thoughts are with his family.’

Former colleague Fred Swanborough added: ‘God bless, such a lovely bloke, had the pleasure of working alongside him for a short period last year. Thank you for your service PC Harper, RIP.’

Last year 1,607 offenders with at least 26 convictions or cautions were not handed prison sentences. The figure was almost twice the 828 ‘super prolific’ offenders who avoided jail in 2008. Labour MP Wes Streeting said: ‘This sickening murder of a police officer follows two attempted murders in as many weeks. No family should have to go through what PC Harper’s family are going through. We can’t respond as though it is business as usual.

‘Single crew deployments must end immediately, sentences should be strengthened to provide a tougher deterrent and we need to provide better protective equipment to police, including tasers…’

Meanwhile figures show more than 20 emergency workers are assaulted every day in the line of duty with 4,000 attacks on police officers, hospital staff and prison officers in six months.

Merseyside Police Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy appealed directly to the attackers this week after six of her officers were injured in a 24-hour window. DCC Kennedy told the culprits: ‘My message to those who carry violence against police is this: please remember, whatever you think of us, one day you or your families may need our help too.’

The incidents comes just days after another officer – PC Gareth Phillips, 42 – was knocked down and driven over as he tried to stop a suspected car thief in Birmingham. The traffic officer, who has served in the force for nearly 20 years, remains in intensive care.

In another attack that shocked the nation last week, PC Stuart Outten, 28, was attacked with a machete after pulling over a van driver in East London.

Meanwhile retired police officer Norman Brennan – who heads up the Protect the Protectors campaign and served for 31 years – said last night: ‘What we’re sick and tired of is, today there will be platitudes from the Prime Minister downwards. Platitudes don’t challenge the criminal justice system. Promises that are enacted do.’

Police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while on duty

PC Keith Palmer was stabbed in 2017 during the Westminster Bridge attack

PC Keith Palmer was stabbed in 2017 during the Westminster Bridge attack

Pc Andrew Harper joins a long list of colleagues killed in the line of duty.

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A National Police Memorial roll of honour in London lists all the officers who have been killed by criminal acts in the line of duty since 1680.

The roll records more than 1,600 officers who have died while performing vital tasks such as foiling terrorists, quelling rioters and marshalling protests.

Among them was unarmed PC Keith Palmer, who was stabbed in March 2017 by Khalid Masood during the Westminster Bridge terror attack.

Masood’s rampage – in which five people died – was ended when he was shot dead by a minister’s close protection officer. PC Palmer was posthumously awarded the George Medal.

Also listed are the three unarmed Metropolitan Police officers murdered in Shepherd’s Bush by Harry Roberts in 1966.

Detective Sergeant Christopher Head, 30, Detective Constable David Wombwell, 25, and PC Geoffrey Fox, 41, were shot without warning while questioning three suspects in a van.

PC Fiona Bone

PC Nicola Hughes

PC Fiona Bone (left), 32, and PC Nicola Hughes (right), 23, were murdered by Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester in September 2012

In more recent times, PC Gary Toms, 37, was critically injured confronting suspects in Leyton, east London, on April 11 2009.

He died six days later when his life support machine was switched off – 25 years to the day after PC Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London while controlling a crowd of demonstrators.

Her killer has never been brought to justice and film director Michael Winner founded the Police Memorial Trust as a result of her murder.

PC Fiona Bone, 32, and PC Nicola Hughes, 23, were murdered by Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester in September 2012.

PC Ricky Grey was shot in the head by a gunman who then turned the weapon on himself in Shrewsbury in 2007, and PC Sharon Beshenivsky was shot dead when she and a colleague tried to stop armed robbers in Bradford in November 2005.

Another name on the roll is PC Keith Blakelock, a 40-year-old father of three who was set on by a mob and hacked to death with a machete during the Broadwater Farm riots in 1985.

Winston Silcott, along with two other men, was found guilty of his murder but in 1991 their convictions were overturned on appeal because of ‘unsafe’ police evidence.

PC Ian Broadhurst, 34, of West Yorkshire Police, was murdered by David Bieber, 38, in Leeds on Boxing Day 2003. Bieber also shot two of PC Broadhurst’s colleagues.

The American bodybuilder, who was wanted by the FBI for ordering two killings in Florida, was subsequently jailed for life.

Detective Constable Michael Swindells, 44, died after he was knifed in the stomach as he and colleagues conducted a search in Birmingham in May 2004.

Detective Constable Stephen Oake died during a police raid on a flat in Crumpsall, Manchester, in January 2003.

Kamel Bourgass launched a frenzied knife attack on the Special Branch officer as he tried to escape. The Algerian was sentenced to life for his murder.

Det Con Oake’s bravery not only saved the lives of several colleagues but potentially hundreds of people who Bourgass was plotting to kill with the poison ricin.

PC Alison Armitage, 29, was run down by a stolen car in March 2001. She died during an undercover operation in Hollinwood, near Oldham, Greater Manchester. She was run over twice by a driver in a stolen vehicle in the car park of a derelict pub.

In October 1997, Pc Nina Mackay was stabbed to death in a raid in Stratford, east London, by paranoid schizophrenic Magdi Elgizouli.

Police officers also find themselves in danger when they are off duty. Father-of-two PC Ian Dibell, 41, was off work with a hand injury when he was killed near his home in Clacton in July 2012.

He had gone to help a member of the public who had been injured in a gun attack and was shot himself.

Britain’s bravest bobby: Family’s pride in stabbed PC who was knifed with a foot-long blade in London

PC Stuart Outten attacked with a machete in East London last week after stopping a van driver suspected of traffic offences

PC Stuart Outten attacked with a machete in East London last week after stopping a van driver suspected of traffic offences

The family of the heroic policeman who survived a savage machete onslaught said they are ‘incredibly proud’ of the bravery he showed.

PC Stuart Outten was knifed with a foot-long blade last week after pulling over a van driver suspected of having no insurance.

The 28-year-old’s family said his injuries could have been fatal after he suffered four deep cuts to his head and neck.

Despite bleeding profusely, the officer managed to incapacitate his attacker with a Taser stun gun and then call for an ambulance on his radio. 

Mobile phone footage has emerged which shows him bent over in the road while a passer-by tells him he is bleeding, to which PC Outten sighed and replied: ‘Oh, yeah.’

His heroism led many to brand PC Outten as ‘the hardest bobby in Britain’.

He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition following the attack in Leyton, East London, shortly after midnight on Thursday morning of last week. 

Astonishingly, he was discharged from hospital at about 2pm the next day – just 38 hours after the attack. Wounds on his left cheek, both temples and on the back of his head were stitched up.

He underwent surgery to re-attach tendons in his thumb, which was almost chopped off during the attack.

The man accused of attacking PC Outten appeared in court last week charged with attempted murder. Muhammad Rodwan, from Luton, is also charged with possession of an offensive weapon. 

Deputy District Judge Adrian Turner remanded Rodwan in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court until his next appearance at the Old Bailey on September 6.