PC Andrew Harper was dragged to death by a getaway van of burglars who stole a quad bike from a £800,000 country house, according to reports.
The 28-year-old newlywed was struck down by a vehicle and killed after stepping out of his car on Thursday night.
It was yesterday revealed that the ten males aged 13 to 30 arrested on suspicion of killing Andrew all came from the same traveller site.
Det Supt Ailsa Kent, of the Major Crime Unit at Thames Valley Police, said the men were from Four Houses Corner — a local authority site three miles from Sulhamstead, Berks, three miles from where Andrew died.
QUAD BIKE THEFT
DS Kent revealed he had died from “multiple injuries” after being dragged by a vehicle for a distance along the road.
While responding, officers located a vehicle that was suspected to be involved in the burglary.
Today cops were seen at a boarded-up country home in the same area, near the village of Bradfield Southend.
The burglars involved in PC Harper’s death had been “raiding an £800,000 Victorian country house in Berkshire that was being renovated” and “stole a quad bike” before the officer was killed, sources told the Mail Online.
Thames Valley Police confirmed to The Sun Online that a quad bike had been stolen from a property in the village.
They dismissed initial reports suggesting that a burning car was found at the travellers’ site and was part of their investigation.
Cops now have until early tomorrow to quiz the suspects, after they were yesterday granted an extra 36 hours.
Forensic teams have been combing through the site as at least five police vans were at the scene.
Locals told how the site — home to around 21 caravans — was a trouble hotspot.
Paul Jones, 47, a retired firefighter from the nearby village of Tadley, said: “Those travellers think they are a law unto themselves.
“We’ve had garages broken into, vans broken into, shops being burgled, cash machines broken into.
“We’ve had one guy have his caravan stolen.”
The Times yesterday reported that Andrew died after being hit by a Seat van and dragged several hundred metres down the road.
‘A GREAT COP’
The newspaper claimed that Andrew was thrown from the van’s undercarriage on to the road, where he was then hit by a police dog unit called in by his colleagues.
It was not known exactly when Andrew died but a colleague was heard shouting: “Stay with me, stay with me, keep breathing,” as he battled for life.
Thames Valley Police refused to comment on The Times’s claims.
The force contacted the Independent Office for Police Conduct on Friday, but no inquiry was opened.
According to the watchdog, so-called “blue on blue” deaths are exempt from mandatory referral and investigation.
An officer on duty with Andrew was not physically hurt but was receiving emotional support.
The father of the murdered PC, Philip Harper, revealed yesterday that the family are “absolutely devastated and in a bad place”.
Today Andrew’s half-sister Kate Hopkins branded him a hero.
She wrote: “Forever my brother. A hero until the end. The best friend ever.”
Grieving police officers were seen laying flowers near the scene, with one describing him as “Thames Valley’s finest”.
Some could be seen embracing, while one wiped away a tear from their cheek.
One tribute, accompanied by an image of Andrew smiling with a friend, said: “Harps, I am truly gutted.
“A great cop, a great man, a great friend. There will always be a part of my heart missing now. RIP mate, love you. Chef, Sarah and Harry.”
Forensics officers at work at the Four Houses Corner caravan site near Reading
Another read: “Such a shocking, mindless, horrific act of brutality. This has been impossible for us to get our heads around.
“PC Harper was a beautiful young soul. A brave man protecting us all and just doing his job.”
Another tribute read: “A shockingly sad day. We come together as a brotherhood at times like this and hopefully your family can take some comfort from that love and support.”
Thames Valley Police Federation have already raised more than £60,000 for PC Harper’s family through two JustGiving pages.
Donations of more than £14,000 have also flooded a page set up by PC Harper, who had pledged to undertake an endurance race for a children’s cancer charity.
The Union Jack at a local parish church flew at half-mast in tribute to the killed officer.
At a press conference Det Supt Kent said: “A post-mortem was carried out on Andrew’s body yesterday and the cause of death has been recorded as multiple injuries.
“The cause of death is consistent with our current belief that Andrew was caught between a vehicle and the surface of a road and then dragged for a distance. However, the circumstances as to how Andrew came to be out of his vehicle and then caught under the suspect vehicle is unknown.”
Andrew had been due to go on honeymoon to Australia next week with new wife Lissie, 28.
Det Supt Kent revealed he was responding to a reported burglary in the nearby village of Bradfield Southend when the horror unfolded.
Hero who died to keep us safe
By Kit Malthouse, Policing Minister
PC ANDREW Harper embodied the values that make our police service the finest in the world — courage, professionalism and commitment.
Like tens of thousands of officers, he was simply performing his duties, yet fell victim to a terrible and cowardly violent act.
By all accounts he was a lovely man, newly married, and the pain this loss will have caused his family, friends and colleagues is unimaginable.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of the country to say we stand with them, and the policing family, and will offer every support.
From the outset, the new Government has made clear our commitment to give police the resources and powers they need to do their crucial work.
All our brave officers must know we’re committed to their safety as they face the challenges each day brings.
PC Harper gave his young life in the service of our safety. We must remember him and his sense of duty as we strive to make our country safer still.
She said: “While responding, the officers located a vehicle that was suspected to be involved in the burglary.
Within an hour of the incident happening we arrested ten males aged between 13 and 30 years on suspicion of murder.
“I can confirm the males were arrested from a local authority-run caravan and mobile home site, Four Houses Corner.
Earlier today we sought a 36-hour extension to their custody and this was granted at Reading magistrates’ court.”
Meanwhile, police are also concerned for the safety of the victims of the burglary that Andrew was called to.
Extra security measures are expected to be put in place for those victims.
A source told The Sun: “The care home and house beside the crime scene were not targeted in a burglary that night.
“The residents didn’t even realise something had happened until the police turned up.”
PM Boris Johnson has described the killing of Andrew as a “mindless and brutal crime”. He was the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty since PC Keith Palmer, 48, was stabbed to death by Khalid Masood in the Westminster terror attack in 2017.
Meanwhile, a fundraising page set up by Andrew has been flooded with donations since his death. He had created a page with a £500 target for the 20-mile, 200- obstacle Dirty Weekend race in Peterborough in May next year.
But a flurry of donations on the Virgin Money Giving site in aid of Children with Cancer UK has now taken the total amount raised to more than £13,700.
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