PC Harper's widow vows to win 'proper punishment' for his teen killers as she talks of 'agonising battle'

PC Andrew Harper's determined widow today vowed to win "proper punishment" for her husband's teen killers as their soft sentences are challenged.

The hero officer, 28, was dragged to his death while responding to a quad bike theft on August 15 last year.

Albert Bowers, 18, Henry Long, 19, and Jessie Cole, 18, were 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 were handed a lesser prison sentence of just 42 years in total.

Their soft sentences, which could see them walk free in at least eight years, have been referred to the Court of Appeal by Attorney General Suella Braverman.

PC Harper's devastated wife Lissie, who wed her childhood sweetheart four weeks before his death, today said the country stood with her in the "agonising battle".

Speaking outside the court in London, she said: "I stand before you with my heart as heavy as it was those many months ago when I stood feeling let down and angry outside of the Old Bailey.

"Yet today I feel pride in myself for not settling for something that I see as unacceptable.

"Proud to fight for my heroic husband Andrew, as I also continue to push for the safety and justice of his fellow emergency service protectors in the future.

"Today has been as harrowing as you can all expect, however we leave this court with at least a sense of balance.

"Reaching a step closer to a fair outcome is something that I have strived towards for a long time.

"We have all hoped and prayed that our beloved boy's death will not go improperly unpunished.

"So, we continue with our agonising battle for justice, a journey that we have had to endure for too long."

Lissie has launched a campaign called Harper's Law calling for those convicted of manslaughter to be jailed for life if the victim is an emergency worker.

She said today the battle for the law will "continue unabated" and the family will now await the reserved judgement.

The widow added: "I have every respect to the Attorney General for reaching the right decision in referring this case for review.

"I know that the majority of our country stands with her and with me in wanting change.

"Perhaps this may now go to show, at the very least, the urgency in which we need to be tougher and more prepared to shield our heroes from the atrocities that they continue to face."

The Attorney General told the court jail terms were "unduly lenient" and should be increased as the killing was "as serious a case of manslaughter as it is possible to envisage".

Ms Braverman explained PC Harper "paid the ultimate price" for his bravery.

And she told how Long – the leader of the trio – should have been jailed for life for his part.

The Attorney General argued his 16-year jail term did not reflect "the seriousness of the offence" and was "contrary to the interests of justice".

She added: "A life sentence was the appropriate sentence for the first offender, who was and remains dangerous … if not in a case such as this, then when?”

Ms Braverman also said the sentencing judge "accorded too great a reduction" to Bowers and Coles "for their age and learning difficulties".

She explained if the court found Long's sentence to be unduly lenient, Bowers and Cole's sentences "should also have been commensurately longer".

But the teen trio are appealing against the length of their jail terms in a move branded a "kick in the stomach" by Andrew's mum Debbie.

Lawyers for the three, who are appearing via videolink, claim the sentences were "manifestly excessive".

Rossano Scamardella QC, representing Long, said the killing was the result of "a freakish accident" after he became attached to the back of the car, adding: "There was no intentional application of force or violence… there was no intent whatsoever to cause serious bodily harm or death."

While Timothy Raggatt QC, representing Bowers, said: "The idea that these sentences could be described as unduly lenient… is, to be blunt, far-fetched in the extreme."

Dame Victoria Sharp said the court will give its ruling on the case at a later date.

During the trial, the jury heard how 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.

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.

Lissie had bravely faced her husband's killers in court as she revealed she has "screamed and cried every day" since he was killed.

The couple had been planning their honeymoon together when he was 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."

The court will give its ruling at a later date.

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