PC Harper's tearful widow says 'four weeks was all I had to be called his wife' as his teen killers caged for 42 years

THREE teens who killed PC Andrew Harper have today been caged for a total of 42 years – as his sobbing widow told how she only had "four weeks as his wife".

Lissie Harper, 28, said she has "screamed and cried every day" since he was killed by the teenage thugs as she struggled to put her grief into words.

Albert Bowers, 18, Henry Long, 19, and Jessie Cole, 18, were last week cleared of murder much to the slain cop's family's dismay.

They were instead convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter – meaning the trio have been handed a lesser prison sentence of just 42 years in total.

But Mr Justice Edis said: "Manslaughter cases range greatly in seriousness.

"Sometimes death may be caused by an act of gross carelessness, sometimes it is very close to a case of murder in its seriousness.

"That is so, here."

Long, who was driving the car when PC Harper was dragged to his death while responding to a quad bike theft on August 15, was caged for 16 years.

Bowers and Cole were handed 13 years in prison and banned from driving for two years.

All three warned they will not be eligible for release until they have served at least two thirds of their sentence – meaning "leader of the gang" Long could be back on the streets in just ten years.

A fourth defendant, Thomas King, 21, was sentenced to two years after he admitted conspiracy to steal a quad bike.

The killers' families wept and gasped as the sentences were handed down, while Lissie's mum Julie Beckett applauded.

Sentencing, the judge said nothing he can do can “restore Andrew Harper to his loving wife or family", adding: "His devastating loss in terrible circumstances will follow his family for ever.”

Describing the killers as "young, unintelligent but professional criminals", he added none of them had "shown anything resembling remorse".

And he also rejected the trio's claims they didn't know "talented and brave" PC Harper was attached the car and and said it "defies belief" none of them looked back once.

PC Harper's devastated wife Lissie, who wed her childhood sweetheart, 28, four weeks before his death, bravely faced his killers at the Old Bailey today.

The couple had been planning their honeymoon together when he killed while in the line the of duty.

She broke down twice as she read from a heart-wrenching statement, saying: "My husband was brutally killed four weeks after our wedding day.

"Should I speak again of how we were robbed of our future or the plans stolen from us?

"Four weeks was all I had with my husband – four weeks to be called his wife.

"My life often feels bleak, hopeless, irreparable.

"Every aspect of my life since Andrew was taken is bitterly different."

Lissie also told how she finds herself in a "lost and endless world" after her husband was killed.

She added: "That's the reason in particular this question defeats me – unless you have stood in my shoes, lost a soulmate, a beloved partner you intended to spend your life with – how is this grief possible to describe?

"I have used every word possible to describe this torture – indescribable trauma I have been forced to endure these past 11 months.

"I have cried and broken down."

Lissie's heartbreaking statement in full

This is my third attempt at writing a victim impact statement.

After many words of anguish, scriptures of love and testimonies of heart break, I sit at this task with an emptiness that I without pretence admit that in an attempt to describe what impact Andrew’s death has had on me I simply find myself in a lost and endless world of numb despair.

Perhaps the reason that this question in particular defeats me is because until and unless you have stood in my shoes, unless you have had the immense misfortune of losing a husband or a wife, a soul mate, true love or beloved partner whom you intended to be with until your dying day, then how is this grief and loss even possible to describe?

I have used every word in my vocabulary to describe the pain, torture and hopelessness that I feel, I have written poems and letters and messages of love and devastation over the indescribable trauma that I have been forced to endure these past eleven months.

I have screamed and cried and broken down in fractured defeat and yet when it is this moment that I am asked to explain my impacted life that the hollowness of loss truly appears.

My husband was brutally killed four weeks after our wedding day… What impact has this had on my life? Need I repeat the devastating details and the cruelty in which this occurred? Should I speak again of how we were robbed of our future? Of the plans that were stolen from us? Should I describe my torment over the children that will never come to be? Or like so many people are these heartbreaking details etched into your mind in the shattering way that they will forever remain in mine?

Four weeks was all I had to call him my husband, four weeks to be called his wife. My life often feels bleak, hopeless, irreparable. My desolate nights bring no rest, no time for reprieve from this utter turmoil. Every aspect of my life since Andrew was taken is bitterly different, Every moment of my life before Andrew was taken was imprinted with his love and his presence. A fact in which I alone can only truly understand.

So not only did these men take my true, beautiful love away from me, not only did they rob a brother, son, uncle and friend from all who love him, but they took our future too. They took more than one life away that day, They stole the person that I used to be, the happiness that we shared and the beautiful plans we had made together.

That night as I opened the door to the stranger in uniform before me, everything I had known in my life to be true was robbed away. Every ounce of beautiful peace, gone.

So in answer to the question of how Andrew’s death has impacted me…well you would be justified in your knowledge that I am without question a mere shadow of the person I once was, broken, distraught, beaten! An empty shell, void of the contented life I once loved.

Please do not let the sacrifice that he was forced and unknowingly made to give stand for nothing. He gave everything. A bitter reality that I must face and endure for the rest of my life, every second, every minute, every day.

Whatever is decided today in these courts… it will never bring Andrew back,

Andrew will never grace us with his smile, his compassion and his selfless generosity and love as he used to do.

I will spend every day of the rest of my life with a hollowness that will never ever be filled. An indescribable reality that no amount of words will ever fully reveal. Yet again I search around for the words to express my heartbreak, yet each description of grief appears inadequate and incomplete.

PC Harper's mum Debbie Adlam also read a statement to the court describing how her first-born child has been "ripped" from her.

She said: "I am unable to explain the enormity of what I'm feeling and have been struggling with since we were awoken on August 15 2019 at 4.45am to the worst news imaginable.

"He died because these defendants chose to steal a quad bike.

"My family and I feel broken – can you imagine a loved one dying with such indignity?"

Debbie also told how she has been left unable to work "for fear of breaking down" as her "anxiety is overpowering".

She added: "I hardly sleep… I have no motivation or even daily routine – chores or cooking a meal, it just feels pointless now.

"I have sat in the mortuary of my son's covered body, too damaged for me to see.

"He will never get to be called 'daddy' or hold his own child – we imagined this was not too far away in the future.

"Andrew was such a good man, a brave, a caring person, funny and uplifting,

"I love and miss him daily with every passing moment. He will be loved forever."

Mr Justice Edis today took the unusual step of addressing the court about the verdicts, which he said had "caused some controversy".

The judge also said there was "no truth" in rumours the jury had been intimidated after security was ramped up when police received information "associates of the defendants planned to follow" the panel.

Lissie bravely read a heartfelt statement outside the court describing how she has her "own life sentence" last week.

And she described her husband as "selfless, beautiful and heroic" and called his killers "senseless, barbaric and brutal".

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."

She has since written an open letter to Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and former Labour Home Secretary Lord (David) Blunkett urging them and others "to right such a despicable wrong for our country".

PC Harper's devastated mum has also spoken out against the manslaughter verdicts – branding it a "miscarriage of justice".

She has joined thousands of others who have signed a petition calling on the authorities to overturn the decision.

Serial offenders

ALBERT Bowers and Henry Long both have a long list of previous convictions

Long's convictions: 

  • On November 29, 2017: charged with battery – given a referral order
  • 2018: threatening behaviour – given a referral order
  • 4th July, 2018: battery and threatening behaviour with intent – referral order
  • 5th June, 2019: drunk on a highway – conditionally discharged 3 months 

Bowers' convictions:

  • 3  convictions of violent offences
  • July 2016: received no separate penalty for criminal damage
  • 19th August, 2018: Sexual assault without penetration and possession of a weapon –  youth rehabilitation order with supervision
  • Battery – youth rehabilitation order with supervision 
  • 10th April, 2019: racially aggravated words – referral order for 6 months ordered to pay a victim surcharge 
  • He called a police officer 'a highly offensive word'

Long, Bowers and Cole had watched the verdict via videolink amid cheers from their families after the jury had deliberated for almost two days.

The heartless trio were slammed for showing no remorse as they laughed and even fell asleep during the trial.

But Long's lawyer Rossano Scamardella QC today said he would "have to live with the fact that he killed someone" as she argued he had shown regret for what he'd done.

Long had admitted manslaughter ahead of the trial but all three had denied murder.

It came after jurors heard a car driven by Long at "breakneck speed" swung PC Harper "like a pendulum" along a country lane as he responded to a burglary near Reading, Berks.

The masked teens, who have a long list of previous convictions, had tried to steal a £10,000 bike armed with an axe, crowbars and a length of pipe when they were apprehended by PC Harper.

As the cop got out of his unmarked BMW police car, Cole unhitched the bike and made a bid for freedom through the passenger window.

But tragically, PC Harper's ankles became tangled in the two rope attached to the teens' getaway car as they sped off.

The hero cop was dragged along the country lane at speeds of up to 60mph leaving him with horrific injuries.

His heartless killers smirked and dozed off in court as the gruesome catalogue of wounds was read to the court.

Jurors were told PC Harper would have been knocked unconscious almost immediately and was therefore unable to free himself.

He had been stripped completely naked – including his stab vest being ripped off – except from his socks after being dragged for more than a mile by the thugs.

Lissie Harper's heartbreaking open letter in full

Dear Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, David Blunkett and any other person in which has the power, moral value and sheer strength of character to right such a dispicable wrong for our country…

I am sure you are acutely aware of the details of the recent trial for the conviction of my late husband PC Andrew Harper’s killers.

Not only was this the second of two trials as the first one eventually had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, but it was also an utter injustice. Not only were the three remorseless men found Not-guilty by a possibly influenced jury of 11, but the way in which the trial was conducted, the suspected interference with the jury and the manner in which the defendants behaved was a total disregard for any legal justice system.

Myself among what appears to be almost the whole country are frankly outraged and determined to have this miscarriage of justice overturned. After the worst possible year any person can face I am immensely drained and devastated, More to the point I am not even sure if there is realistically anything that can be achieved by this letter.

However what I will say is that if there is even the slightest chance that this abominable injustice can be rectified then I will do everything I possibly can to ensure that it is. Not only was my husband brutally killed in the most savage and cruel way but he was also an on duty devoted police officer coming to the aid of an innocent member of the public whilst the defendants attempted to commit crimes as they admit without guilt that they do as a lifestyle.

There are many, many details in which made this recent trial atrociously below board including the fact that one member of the jury was dismissed well into the trial due to being over friendly with the defendants as well as their families, in addition to making inappropriate comments to the defendants in court in which was witnessed by members of the prison service.

On top of this following the first trial it was suspected that there could be jury interference and was therefore necessary for the jury to be given special protection by the police after detectives had intel to suggest that family of the defendants were making plans to intimidate them. This alone in our eyes should be enough grounds for a retrial.

Further to this there had been moments in which the jury seemed to be behaving questionably, for example smiling up at the defendants families, as well as being seen to run out of court very quickly during lunch breaks possibly in order to avoid the swarms of traveller families camped out outside the court.

Believe me, I could go on and on about all of the aspects of this case that quite frankly have not been considered. It is important to note that the Police and detectives had left no stone unturned in order to provide a wealth of evidence against the defendants to show how culpable they are for the murder of my husband. The prosecution barristers made our case spectacularly and with clarity, dignified in the truth.

On the other side of things laid barely a defence whatsoever. Even the reconstruction in which to so many showed clearly that at least Henry Long would have known that he was dragging a heavy person behind his car played heavily to a conviction of murder. The jury by all accounts had a very clear journey to follow, a story of indisputable facts and detail was right there in front of them for all to see.

These are the reasons that leave the entire country shocked and mystified as to how this could have possibly been a trial of honest and equitable decision.The horrific details of the way in which my husband was killed need no repetition, once heard leave a devastating imprint on the minds of anyone who hears them.

So for those who have sat day after day seeing footage and photos more horrifying than any they had probably ever had the misfortune of seeing before, for those who have sat whilst coroners divulge the senseless and heartbreaking injuries that Andrew received that night back in August, how is it at all possible to come to any conclusion other than a guilty verdict of murder?

I am very aware that myself and our families are of course biased, we will always know the truth, and in honesty if this had been a fair trial I may have been more inclined to leave it be and try to accept the verdict that has been reached. However along with the whole world it seems to me, we can all see as plain as day that it clearly has not been a fair trial whatsoever.

So whomever it may be that I must speak to, whoever the correct person, establishment or government body that has the power to help me to claim justice for an innocent man robbed of his life, to ensure that these three immoral, barbaric and shameless men are made to pay for their crimes, not only for Andrew but also for our whole country.

I will keep fighting on behalf of Andrew, the future that was stolen from us and also the victims who find themselves in this unjustly situation in the future. After all, who are we if we allow our legal system to fail us? What is this country if it does not provide justice for the innocent? What does it say to the public and the Police officers, old and new if every day they go out and put themselves at risk to detain these criminals just to witness them be treated so exceptionally lightly in the eyes of the law?

It says that we are weak, that we will roll over to the despicable thieves and vile miscreants of this world and literally let them get away with murder.In total honesty I could write and write until my fingers hurt, I could pour my heart further into this letter, I could scream and shout and stand with fierce determination in the eyes of opposition over this crucial matter.

After all what else can I do for my husband now? My heart bleeds for the life that was so selfishly taken from us, but yet in arduous restraint I will not go on any further.

So I implore you to hear my words, see the facts that are laid out before us, and I ask with no expectations other than hope that you might help me to make these changes be considered, to ensure that Andrew is given the retrial that he unquestionably deserves and to see that the justice system in our country is the solid ethical foundation that it rightly should be.

Not the joke that so many of us now view it to be. Please feel able to share my letter far and wide to whomever you see to be appropriate and impactful.

Kindest regards,

Lissie Harper

Horrified colleagues said he was "barely alive" when they came across him but the officer couldn't be saved and tragically died a short time later at the scene.

Long initially denied involvement in the incident and told police in a prepared statement that he had been watching The Goonies and Fast And Furious DVDs.

Jurors heard that he told detectives: "Look at me. Do I look like a murderer?"

Later, on September 18, when Long was charged with murder and conspiracy to steal, he said: "I don't give a f*** about any of this."

But during the trial Long finally admitted he had killed the police officer and said it made him feel “disgraceful”.

The teens' original trial was abandoned the day the country went into lockdown in March.

Mr Justice Edis then ordered extra security measures for the retrial amid fears of potential juror intimidation by supporters of the defendants.

One female juror was discharged just a day before the remaining 11 started deliberating on their verdicts after she was seen mouthing "Bye boys" to the teens in the dock.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern, Jaswant Kaur Narwal, said: “PC Andrew Harper was a young police officer whose life was tragically cut short by the senseless acts of three teenagers, leaving his family, friends and colleagues totally devastated. Our thoughts remain with them during this very difficult time.

“Our deepest sympathies remain with PC Harper’s family, who we know are unhappy with the verdict. The jury can only convict if they are certain beyond reasonable doubt, having heard all the evidence, and we respect their decision.

“Long, Bowers and Cole’s criminal actions resulted in the needless death of a brave, young man who was killed in the line of duty, and they will spend a total of 42 years in prison for that.”

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