The widow of PC Andrew Harper has written to Boris Johnson to ask for a retrial after her husband’s killers were cleared of murder.
Lissie Harper had been married to the Thames Valley police officer for just a month when he was killed by Henry Long, 19, and Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, as they tried to steal a quad bike.
Harper, 28, was dragged for more than a mile along country lanes in Berkshire after he became entangled in a tow rope attached to the teenagers’ getaway car. An Old Bailey jury acquitted all three defendants of murder on Friday, instead convicting Cole and Bowers of manslaughter. Long had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.
In an open letter posted on her Facebook page on Tuesday, Lissie Harper urged Johnson, the home secretary, Priti Patel, the former home secretary David Blunkett and others “to right such a despicable wrong for our country”.
She wrote: “I implore you to hear my words, see the facts that are laid out before us, and I ask with no expectations other than hope that you might help me to make these changes be considered, to ensure that Andrew is given the retrial that he unquestionably deserves and to see that the justice system in our country is the solid ethical foundation that it rightly should be. Not the joke that so many of us now view it to be.”
An initial trial was abandoned when the country went into lockdown in March. For the retrial, Mr Justice Edis ordered extra security measures amid fears of potential juror intimidation by supporters of the defendants.
A female juror was discharged just a day before the remaining 11 started deliberating on their verdicts after she was seen by a prison officer to mouth “bye boys” to the teenagers in the dock.
The defendants, who had previously been seen laughing, hugged each other after the verdicts were returned following more than 12 hours of deliberations. Speaking outside court, Lissie Harper thanked the police and the prosecution, who had “stood in our corner and fought to make sure these men were made to repent for their barbaric crimes”.
But she criticised the verdicts in the open letter. She wrote: “I will keep fighting on behalf of Andrew, the future that was stolen from us and also the victims who find themselves in this unjust situation in the future. After all, who are we if we allow our legal system to fail us? What is this country if it does not provide justice for the innocent?
“What does it say to the public and the police officers, old and new, if every day they go out and put themselves at risk to detain these criminals just to witness them be treated so exceptionally lightly in the eyes of the law?”
Long, Cole and Bowers are due to be sentenced on Friday.