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PC Andrew Harper murder trial collapses due to coronavirus

The jury in the Old Bailey trial has been discharged.

The jury in the trial of three teenagers accused of the murder of PC Harper has been discharged after three jurors placed themselves in self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as a decision has been to put on hold all jury trials in England and Wales to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The 28-year-old Thames Valley officer died after he was dragged behind a car driven by suspected thieves while responding to an emergency call near Sulhamstead in West Berkshire last August.

Henry Long, who's 18 and from College Piece in Reading, and two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were charged over his death.

But their murder trial has now been adjourned after the jury of 12 men and women was depleted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Justice Edis told the court earlier (23/03) that he had made the decision with a "heavy heart" after a third juror went into self-isolation over the weekend, following two others last week.

"It is with great regret that I have decided to discharge the jury and to adjourn this trial," said the judge.

"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."

Thames Valley Police says it's disappointing that there will have to be a re-trial.

The trial started at The Old Bailey on March 9th and was due to last around 6 weeks.

The force says the decision will be 'very difficult' for PC Harper's family to hear - although it 'fully accepts the judges decision.'

The three teenagers deny murder.

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