PC Harper's widow 'utterly shocked' and 'immensely disappointed' at verdict
The widow of PC Andrew Harper has said she feels “immensely disappointed” after three teenagers were cleared of murder and instead found guilty of manslaughter for killing her husband.
Lissie Harper, who had only been married for a month when her husband died, said she felt “utterly shocked and appalled” when she heard the verdicts.
Standing outside the Old Bailey she told reporters: “Standing here before all of you, 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 these courts by strangers, will never change the outcome that had already come to us.
“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, investigation team and Thames Valley Police officers have worked tirelessly and whom we thank sincerely for all that they have done, as they stood in our corner and fought to ensure that 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. Andrew was taken from us on that horrendous night last year, 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. And I am immensely disappointed with the verdict given today.
“Andrew served in Thames Valley Police with honour, he went out night after night, risking his life for the safety and wellbeing of the innocent, as all police officer 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.
“Myself and Andrew’s family will never come to terms with our new lives, we will never understand how such a beautiful, loving, decent human being could be dealt this fate.
“I now have my own life sentence to bear, and believe me when I say it will be a much more painful, soul destroying and treacherous journey than anyone facing a meagre number of years in prison will experience.
“Myself and our families will spend the rest of our days missing him, loving him and being utterly proud of the incredible Man that he was. We will never forget the kindness we as a family have received from all who have supported us over the past year, friends, family, total strangers and the almighty unity of the thin blue line. From the depths of our hearts, thank you.”
Craig O’Leary, chair of Thames Valley Police Federation, said: “The horrendous events of August 15 last year will never be forgotten by any Thames Valley Police officer.
“PC Andrew Harper loved being a police officer. He loved being a Thames Valley Police officer. And today and every day his colleagues remember him as ‘Harps’, a brave hero killed on duty doing his job. He is still incredibly missed by many.
“Andrew should have been going home that summer night to his wife and looking forward to a long and loving marriage and a highly successful career. That was taken away from him by cowardly criminals who are not worthy of being named.
“On two occasions – due to the Covid-19 pandemic – Andrew’s family, friends and colleagues have had to listen to heartbreaking evidence in the trial into his murder. At times it has been gruesome and incredibly difficult to hear. And we must pay tribute to the dignity and bravery Lissie and family have all shown throughout the two trials.”
He added: “Despite the completely unwarranted negative publicity surrounding policing in this country at the moment, we must always remember that police officers go to work each and every day to fight crime and protect the public.
“Sadly on very rare and horrendous occasions a colleague makes the ultimate sacrifice. When that happens, we must ensure they are never forgotten – and in Thames Valley Police we shall never forget Andrew or his bravery that night.
“No police officer wants to have to investigate the killing of a colleague. And we must also today pay tribute to the incredible work of Thames Valley Police colleagues who painstakingly put together the evidence that has led to today’s convictions.”
Mr O’Leary concluded: “Since we lost Andrew, the support we have received from the police family and the public in the UK – and indeed across the world – has been overwhelming.
“On behalf of all my colleagues in Thames Valley Police, I’d like to express my gratitude for that support. It has been really appreciated in what has been an incredibly tough time for all.
“But nothing of course compares to the loss Andrew’s family and wife Lissie have felt. The Police Federation has been honoured to support them over the past year and we will continue to be there for them as long as they need.
“We are a police family and they remain a huge part of that family.”