The widow of a police officer who was dragged to his death said she is ‘immensely disappointed’ that his three killers were cleared of murder.
Pc Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie said the way her late husband, 28, died was ‘barbaric’, and that the family ‘will never understand how such a beautiful, loving, decent human being could be dealt this fate’. She added that they ‘will spend the rest of our days missing him, loving him and being utterly proud of the incredible man that he was’.
Speaking outside court after the ruling, Mrs Harper said: ‘I now have my own life sentence to bear and believe me when I say it will be a lot more painful, soul destroying and painful journey than anyone facing a meagre number of years in prison will experience.’
The widow’s comments came shortly after Henry Long, 19, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were found guilty of manslaughter at the Old Bailey on Friday. The trial heard how the teenagers were determined to escape from officers ‘at all costs’ after attempting to steal a £10,000 quad bike from a house in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire.
Thames Valley Police officer Harper responded to the theft on the evening of August 15, last year.
But after getting out of his patrol car to chase after a suspect, his ankles became entangled in a crane strap attached to the boot of Long’s Seat Toledo.
He was dragged for more than a mile down winding country lanes and suffered catastrophic injuries, which led to his death.
Speaking outside court after the ruling, Mrs Harper said: ‘I honestly thought I would be addressing you after a very different verdict. I had planned to talk of the beautiful future Andrew and I had before us, I expected my words to be so very different and in all honesty I am for the second time in the space of one year utterly shocked and appalled.
‘The decisions made in the these courts by strangers will never change the outcome that had already come to pass. For many, many agonising months we have hoped that justice would come in some way for Andrew.
‘We have put our faith in the justice system and all who work within it.
‘We have waited with baited breath and heavy hearts as the dedicated prosecution barristers and investigation team of Thames Valley Police officers have worked tirelessly and who we thank sincerely for all they have done, as they stood in our corner and fought to make sure these men were made to repent for their barbaric crimes.
‘No verdict or sentence will ever bring my incredible, selfless and heroic husband back. The results from this trial I had hoped would bring justice but in reality make no difference to the heart-wrenching pain I will continue to feel for the rest of my life.’
She continued: ‘Andrew was taken from us on that horrendous night last year and his life was stolen and the lives of his family and friends altered forever. This crime, whatever the outcome deliberated over in court, was brutal and senseless.
‘The way in which Andrew was robbed of his life we all know to be barbaric and inexplicable. I am immensely disappointed with the verdict given today.’
Speaking outside the Old Bailey, she said: ‘Andrew served in Thames Valley Police with honour. He went out night after night risking his life for the safety and the wellbeing of the innocent as all police officers do with passion.
‘Ultimately he laid down his life for us all and it pains me more than I can ever explain that this has not been appreciated by the very people who should have seen his heroic and selfless duty as so many other members of the public – total strangers – clearly do’.
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