PC Andrew Harper’s widow has said her husband would have been proud of her for campaigning for life sentences for those who kill emergency service workers.
The 28-year-old police officer was dragged to his death by a car driven by quad bike thieves after he tried to stop them fleeing in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, on 15 August last year.
Lissie Harper, who married her husband one month before his death, is calling for a minimum sentence of life in prison for anyone convicted of killing “a police officer, firefighter, doctor, prison officer or paramedic”.
Her husband’s three killers were convicted of manslaughter, not murder, and sentenced to between 13 and 16 years in prison.
Mrs Harper, who had been with her husband for more than 12 years, told Sky News: “I’ve learnt an awful lot this past year about grief and strength and trying to be brave, which brings me to why I’m doing this now.
“I want to make something out of this horrific year.
“Instead of Andrew’s legacy being about the horrible way he died maybe we can make a positive change I know he’d be proud of.
“A year, astonishingly, has passed and now I want to focus on this and I’m determined to get this law passed.
“We’ve had so much support, so that’s my focus.
“The least we can do is offer our protectors some protection.
“Not only that, but if this in some small way acts as a deterrent for people thinking of committing crimes or who live that sort of lifestyle to think ‘well actually if somebody is killed it will be a serious consequence not just a few years in prison’ and back to their normal life.”
The family first announced the campaign on 4 August, when PC Harper’s mother, Debbie Adlam, told Sky News she wanted anyone who injures or kills a police officer to serve a minimum 20-year term, under “Andrew’s Law”.
On Tuesday, Mrs Harper released a statement saying she is “overwhelmed by the thousands of people from across the country who have publicly backed our campaign since we announced its launch”.
The campaign has been renamed Harper’s Law to prevent confusion with another campaign in the United States.
Mrs Harper revealed what keeps her going, telling Sky News: “We had plans, the possibility of starting a family, but because all of that’s taken away it’s made me really determined to do something now.
“Widowhood is an excruciating journey but what I don’t want to do is spend each day just sitting, trying to get through it – I want to do something he would be proud of, do something for him, hence why Harper’s Law is so important.
“All I’ve been thinking about is what would he want me to be doing and would he want me to be helping his co-workers and the people he respected? And he absolutely would – that’s where I’m finding the strength from.
“I can hear him telling me to do that now.”
The ringleader of the group of thieves who killed PC Harper, 19-year-old Henry Long, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for manslaughter, but could be released in less than 11 years.
Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were sentenced to 13 years.
But they could be out on licence after serving less than nine years, under legislation that says a prisoner is eligible for release after serving two-thirds of their sentence.
Harper’s Law has also been backed by PC Harper’s father, stepmother, brother and sister, as well as the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), which represents thousands of officers up to the rank of chief inspector.
The PFEW’s national chair, John Apter, said the new law would be PC Harper’s legacy.
“We will continue to support Lissie in her efforts to seek justice and change the law for the greater good,” he said.
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Mrs Harper wrote a heartfelt poem paying tribute to her late husband at a memorial ahead of the first anniversary of his killing on Friday.
In the poem, Mrs Harper described her husband as “kind and strong without venom or greed,” adding that she was lucky to be his wife.