The widow of PC Andrew Harper has described her experience of coming face-to-face with her husband's killers in the courtroom, saying they didn't take it seriously and were shouting 'like football fans'.
Lissie Harper was present in court last month when the three teenagers who dragged her husband for more than a mile in a getaway car to his death were given a total of 42 years in prison. She said they behaved like naughty schoolchildren in the dock, before dropping the act when leaving the courtroom to shout, as if at a football match.
She told the Daily Mail : 'They looked like they were sitting in the headteacher's office.
'They were waving up to the public gallery at their families as if it was all just a day out. They were laughing and joking.'
PC Harper died on August 15 last year, when he was dragged behind a car after his feet became caught in a crane strap while trying to stop Henry Long, 19, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, stealing a quad bike in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire.
After a mile of zig-zag driving, PC Harper's feet finally became free of the strap, yet his body was left with 'catastrophic' injuries, to the extent that he was mistaken for a 'dead deer' by a witness.
After a four-week trial, driver Long was sentenced to 16 years in prison for manslaughter, while the passengers, who were minors at the time of the incident, were both sentenced to 13 years each on July 31.
Lissie did not attend each proceeding, as hearing the finer details would have been too much: 'Even in the opening speeches I found myself so overcome I had to leave the court.
'Some of the details of Andrew's death brought a sickness to my stomach that will never leave me. I think it was these moments that made me feel the most anger towards those vile savages in the dock.'
For Lissie, the teenagers appeared wholly unrepentant, adding: 'All three defendants had claimed they had learning difficulties [the court was told how they'd had little schooling and were illiterate]. But, as far as we could see, they all had a clear understanding that what they were doing was wrong.'
She added: 'Whenever they left the courtroom we could all hear them shouting, like football fans on the terraces. They looked over at us a lot, but not with any kind of sorrow I could see. I sensed they were trying to get a reaction from us. Like this was just a game.
'I'd expected my tears to come in buckets, yet, when my eyes met theirs, my only thought was "how could these hollow people have taken such a beautiful life away?".'
When the three men, all members of a local travellers' community in Reading, were cleared of murder charges, Lissie said she remembers seeing them celebrating by patting each other on the back and looking 'as if they had won a football match or something.'
Last weekend marked a year since PC Harper's death, and Lissie, along with other family members and fellow Thames Valley Police officers gathered for a memorial service and minute of silence .
Since his death, she and police federation representatives have requested a meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel to introduce a penalty of life imprisonment without parole for police killers under Harper's Law. Though still heartbroken from his life being cut short, she is determined to help any other families who experience pain like hers to feel as if justice has been served.
She said: 'Sadly, nothing I do will bring Andrew back. But I know he would be proud of me for seeking to bring about a change in the law, which will hopefully act as a deterrent to anyone considering doing to one of his fellow frontline workers the terrible thing they did to him.'
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