PC Andrew Harper: what happened to him, events after his death and when is A Widow’s Fight for Justice on TV?

 ITV documentary with Sir Trevor McDonald looks at the brutal killing of PC Andrew Harper and widow Lissie’s campaign to change the law

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In August 2019, 28-year-old English police constable Andrew Harper was brutally killed in the line of duty.

Since his death, Harper’s widow, Lissie, has fought for a change in the law that would see mandatory life sentences given to anyone who is convicted of killing an emergency worker.

A new ITV documentary, presented by Sir Trevor McDonald follows the story, from Harper’s death, through to the conviction of his killers, and Lissie’s subsequent battle for justice.

Who was PC Andrew Harper?

PC Harper joined Thames Valley Police in 2010 as a special constable, and became a police constable the following year.

He joined the road policing unit just six weeks before he was killed, and he married his partner, Lissie, just four weeks before his death.

On the night of 15 August 2019, Harper and his fellow officer Andrew Shaw responded to reports of a burglary-in-progress and theft of a quad bike in Berkshire.

The pair came across a car towing the stolen quad bike, and Harper alighted from his police vehicle and ran to the car, where his foot became stuck in a strap that had been used to tow the quad bike.

The suspects then drove off, with Harper still caught in the strap and being pulled behind the vehicle along the road.

Eventually, Shaw became disentangled from the vehicle, but by this point it was too late, and another responding officer found his body on the road. Harper was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem revealed that Harper had been dragged one mile in 91 seconds. It was suspected that he would have lost consciousness when he first fell to the ground.

Lissie Harper campaigned for Harper’s Law which offers emergency workers more protection from violent criminals Lissie Harper campaigned for Harper’s Law which offers emergency workers more protection from violent criminals
Lissie Harper campaigned for Harper’s Law which offers emergency workers more protection from violent criminals

What happened to Harper’s killers?

Shortly after Harper’s body was found, three suspects were arrested, with ten suspects being arrested in total.

Three suspects were eventually brought to trial at the Old Bailey - Albert Bowers, Jessie Cole, and Henry Long.

All three defendants were cleared of murder by the jury. Long had pleaded to manslaughter, and both Bowers and Cole were also found guilty of manslaughter.

Lissie penned an open letter in which she appealed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and then Home Secretary Sajid Javid to allow for a retrial seeking a murder verdict, but this did not occur.

Long was sentenced to 16 years in prison whilst both Bowers and Cole received 13 years in prison.

What is Harper’s Law?

Following the conviction of Harper’s killers which many, including his widow, believed were too lenient, Lissie began to campaign for a stricter sentencing law.

The law, which became known as Harper’s Law, would give emergency workers greater protection from violent criminals.

In November 2021, the Ministry of Justice announced that Harper’s Law would be added to the statute book - this is expected to happen in 2022.

The law will introduce mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker whilst committing a crime.

The new law will mean that mandatory life sentences will be handed down to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty – including police, prison officers, firefighters and paramedics – while carrying out another crime unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.

When is A Widow’s Fight for Justice on ITV?

The documentary will air on ITV at 9pm on 15 March.

It will be available to watch on ITV Hub after it is broadcast.

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