PC ANDREW Harper's grieving widow Lissie has called for changes in the law after her husband was tragically killed on the job in August last year.
After her husband's killers were spared life sentences, Lissie launched a campaign for justice. Here's everything we know about Harper's law and what it would involve.
What is Harper's Law?
Lissie is campaigning for Harper's Law, which would mean those who kill emergency workers – including police, fire or emergency medical workers – are jailed for life.
After all three of PC Harper's killers were spared life sentences, Lissie launched the campaign for a change in the law she said "this country clearly needs".
PC Andrew Harper's killers – Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, and Henry Long, 19, were accused of murder but convicted only of manslaughter.
PC Harper, 28, was dragged for more than a mile behind three travellers’ car after getting entangled in a tow rope trying to stop a theft near Reading in August of 2019.
The smirking culprits hugged after the verdicts to cheers from their families.
"Society must offer the greatest protection for those dedicated public servants who are killed protecting it. That is what Harper’s Law would provide. An appropriate deterrent and suitable punishment," Lissie said.
“The law must be changed. We want to work with the Government, politicians of all parties and the fantastic British public on this.”
Why is Harper's Law controversial?
The campaign does not distinguish between convictions of murder or manslaughter.
Murder already carries an automatic life sentence, and where the victim is a police officer doing his duty the statutory 'starting point' is already life without parole.
Harper's Law will mean that those guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter will also receive a life sentence, where the victim is an emergency worker.
In cases such as these, the accused may not have the intent to kill.
In PC Harper’s case the trial judge said: "The jury were not sure that Henry Long knew that … the car he was driving was dragging a human body. That is what the prosecution had to prove before anyone could be convicted of murder and they did not succeed in doing so."
Culpability in offences of manslaughter can be wildly variable.
A single punch may unexpectedly cause death and can be ruled as manslaughter.
A deliberate killing can be reduced from murder to manslaughter by reason of the killer’s 'diminished responsibility'.
An overarching law which mandates life sentences for all offences has been criticised as unjust and absurd.
What has Lissie Harper said about the proposed law?
After her husband's death, Lissie vowed "to stand strong and firm with so many other honourable people in our country to make the changes that we clearly know to be justified".
Appearing on Good Morning Britain on September 1, Lissie said: "We need some form of justice should the worst thing happen to them (emergency service workers).
"Losing someone in that way, you can never prepare yourself for.
"Dealing with the grief is a tremendous effort, so when it comes to the court case you do think 'this will be hard, but we'll get through it and at the end of it Andrew will have some justice' and for that not to happen is heartbreaking.
"I felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment for him because I thought he'd been totally let down and that's what brings me to creating this new law."
On September 2, grieving Lissie met with Priti Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.
She said: "The least we can expect from our justice system is that it ensures criminals who kill those emergency services workers protecting us are given appropriate and substantial prison sentences."
Lissie has been vocal about feeling her husband did not get justice.
"They just don't see what they've done. There isn't a deterrent for these people," she has said.
"They think they can commit crime and even take people's lives and that's acceptable but it isn't and we're disgusted by that sort of behaviour."
A petition calling for the law change now has more than 650,000 signatures.
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