Viewers of Channel 5’s Police Code Zero last night slammed the ‘soft’ 18 month suspended sentence handed to a getaway driver who dragged an officer 650ft down the road.
Sgt Nick Morley and his team had stopped James Williams, 23, to question him after he drove his Mercedes through a stop sign at speed in Thornton Heath, south London in 2018.
But the driver suddenly took off in an attempt to escape – and Sgt Morley said he nearly died as he was pulled along at speeds of up to 50mph while hanging out the window of the vehicle, pleading with the man to stop.
Williams was sentenced to 18 months’ suspended sentence for ABH assault, criminal damage and dangerous driving for the attack on Sgt Morley.
Many angry viewers questioned how an 18-month suspended sentence was an adequate punishment, with dozens taking to Twitter and branding it a ‘disgrace’.
Viewers of Channel 5’s Police Code Zero last night slammed the ‘soft’ 18 month suspended sentence handed to a getaway driver who dragged an officer 650ft down the road at speed
One tweeted: ‘I’d like to say I’m in utter disbelief about that suspended sentence being given but it shows the reality of what the police are up against from both criminals and the courts.’
Another wrote: ‘Watching #policecodezero and I am absolutely shocked. Criminal drags officer half a mile down the road and is handed an 18 month suspended sentence! Absolutely absurd. We need to protect our #police. All this talk of Police brutality yet our officers are abused/assaulted daily.’
And one raged: ‘It is no wonder we have so much crime in this country, the justice system is too soft and people getting away with anything. Dragging a police officer in a car, going on the run and you get an 18 month suspended sentence, he could have killed the officer.’
The shocking moment was captured by Sgt Morley and his teammates’ bodycams. The video has chilling similarities with the death of PC Harper, the Thames Valley Police officer who was flayed alive while being dragged behind a car in August 15 last year.
Sgt Nick Morley and his team had stopped the man to question him after he drove his Mercedes through a stop sign in Thornton Heath, south London in 2018
Sgt Morley was dragged 650ft while hanging out the side of a Mercedes in Croydon, South London. The man driving the car was let off with a suspended sentence
But unlike PC Harper – whose feet were caught in rope – Sgt Morley was able to jump free off the speeding vehicle, breaking his wrist and tearing the skin off his right leg.
PC Harper’s widow Lissie is pushing for the law to be changed so cop killers get life sentences, after the trio who pulled her husband to death were sentenced for the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Henry Long – driving the getaway car – and passengers Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were sentenced to 13 years each for the death of PC Harper.
Asked if he backs Lissiie Harper’s proposal, Sgt Morley said: ‘If you asked anyone that, the majority of people would agree, that would be something they think is right.
The shocking moment was captured by Sgt Morley and his teammates’ bodycams. The video has chilling similarities with the death of PC Harper, the Thames Valley Police officer who was flayed alive while being dragged behind a car in August 15 last year. Lissie, right, had been married to PC Andrew Harper, 28, for four weeks before he was killed on duty by the thieves
Henry Long (left), 19, and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole (centre) and Albert Bowers (right) were sentenced at the Old Bailey for manslaughter after PC Harper’s death
‘I think that sentences in general need to be stricter. Even for something like my assault, he got a suspended sentence so he didn’t go to prison. I was disappointed with that. Ultimately, I nearly lost my life that day.’
Sgt Morley – who has since been promoted – was on patrol in an unmarked car when his team pulled over Williams’ grey Mercedes.
James Williams, 23, was sentenced to 18 months’ suspended sentence for ABH assault, criminal damage and dangerous driving for the attack on Sgt Morley
They were ticking him off for driving at speed and without due care when officers noted a wad of cash in the front, and asked if he had anything illegal in the car.
At this point, Williams, of Croydon got in the car and tried to close the door and drive off, but Sgt Morley jumped in after him.
‘We travelled about 30 to 40 metres initially,’ Sgt Morley recalled. ‘Then we came to the abrupt stop, I don’t know if it’s him or me that pressed the brake.’
PC Staniforth and Emil Ward started running after the car. Stainforth told the camera in hindsight: ‘There’s no way you could imagine a police officer being dragged by a car ending well.’
Williams drove about 100 meters while they grappled for control of the car before crashing into a bollard.
As Sgt Morley’s teammates caught up with the car, they tried to stop the driver any way they knew how. PC Ward took out his taser, but unfortunately sent one charge on the driver which had no effect, and his second charge hit Sgt Morley.
PC Nick Morley was part of a group search in Thornton Heath in 2018 when he was dragged away by a speeding driver
The driver then took off again, gaining speed as he went.
‘You could see the door still open and you could still see Nick,’ PC Ward said.
Williams sped off a further 100 miles down the road while Sgt Morley was hanging out the window, before then jumped to safety.
For Sgt Morley, it was the only choice to make. He said he remembered thinking: ‘If I don’t jump out now then I’m gonna get seriously, seriously hurt.’
PC Staniforth said she saw Nick throw himself out of the car, rolling a number of times on the road.
Williams handed himself in three days later and was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court in September last year.