Who is Andrew Harper?
Andrew James Harper grew up in Wallingford. He was educated at The Henley College, where he showed an ambition for joining the police.
Harper initially joined Thames Valley Police as a special constable in 2010 at the age of 19, before joining as a regular police constable in 2011. He joined Thames Valley Police's road policing unit approximately six weeks before his death, and was based at the force's Abingdon station. On 18 July 2019, Harper married his partner of 13 years, Lissie (née Beckett). They had been expecting to go on their honeymoon in mid-August.
Just four weeks after his and Lissie’s wedding, At 23:17 on 15 August 2019, Thames Valley Police received a 999 call from a property near Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, reporting a burglary-in-progress and theft of a quad bike. Harper and fellow constable Andrew Shaw, who were finishing a surveillance shift in Reading, responded to the call in their unmarked BMW police car. At 23:28, Shaw and Harper happened upon a SEAT Toledo towing the stolen quad bike on Admoor Lane near Bradfield Southend. Harper, the passenger of the BMW, alighted the police vehicle and ran to the suspects' vehicle. In doing so, he was caught in a strap that had been used to tow the quad bike. With the quad bike no longer attached, the suspects drove south-east on Lambden's Hill with Harper "lassoed" to the rear of the SEAT vehicle.
Shaw lost sight of the SEAT but in his pursuit found Harper's stab vest in the road. The SEAT, with Harper still being dragged behind, arrived at the lane's junction with the A4 Bath Road—approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from where the police came upon the suspects.The SEAT crossed the A4 into Ufton Lane near Sulhamstead, and Harper became disentangled. At 23:30, Shaw received a radio transmission from another responding officer which warned of "a body in the road"; Shaw replied that he believed the body was that of Harper. Shaw arrived at the location to find another officer tending to Harper,who was pronounced dead by paramedics at 23:45.
The SEAT was later found at Four Houses Corner travellers' site near Burghfield Common by a police helicopter using thermal imaging.
What Happened Next?
In the new ITV documentary, Sir Trevor McDonald visits the scene of this horrific crime and meets the senior investigating officer, DCI Stuart Blaik, who details, along with footage from the night, the terrible events that occurred. Police body-cam footage reveals the moment the prime suspects were arrested at a traveller site in the early hours of the following morning..
Lissie Harper recalls to Sir Trevor the moment there was a knock at her front door in the middle of the night, and the news that would change her life forever. And also how in the immediate aftermath she had to deal with the death of her husband in the glare of the media spotlight.
Investigation and Proceedings
On 17 August, Thames Valley Police's Major Crimes Unit stated that a post mortem performed the previous day gave Harper's cause of death as "multiple injuries", which was congruent with their theory that he had been "caught between a vehicle and the road, and then dragged for a distance". The post mortem also showed that Harper had sustained a "very severe" brain injury; a pathologist stated that it was likely Harper lost consciousness when he fell to the ground. Investigations showed that Harper was dragged 1 mile (1.6 km) in 91 seconds, with the defendants averaging 42.5 miles per hour (68.4 km/h).
On 18 September, 18-year-old Henry Long and 17-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were charged with murder. A fourth male, a 21-year-old from Basingstoke, was charged with conspiracy to steal a quad bike and subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge. On 19 September, the Crown Prosecution Service said that they had discontinued the case against a fifth defendant, a 20-year-old who had previously been charged with the murder.
Who are the Main three suspects?
The three teens - Long, Bowers, and Cole - were all in the car that resulted in Harper's death. Long, then 19, was driving the vehicle; Bowers and Cole, both 18, were passengers. CCTV from before the incident showed the teens driving around, reportedly looking for something to steal. At their trial, the jury learned Harper was being dragged behind the vehicle while Long told his passengers to "put the music on."
He apparently shouted at his passengers to shut up while he was driving away. Long said during the trial that he did not hear or notice anything behind the car.
The murder trial, presided over by Mr. Justice Andrew Edis, began at the Old Bailey on 10 March 2020. Bowers and Cole—both minors at the time of the offence and originally protected by Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933—pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quad bike but denied manslaughter. Long, who was driving the SEAT, had previously admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to steal a quad bike. All three defendants denied murder.
The trial was temporarily suspended on 17 and 18 March as a member of the jury was unwell. The trial, which was being held during the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed on 19 March after two of the jurors were discharged because they were self-isolating. On 23 March, along with all other jury trials in England and Wales, the trial was suspended pending a review of operations amid the spread of COVID-19. During this subsequently abandoned trial, Thames Valley Police said they had received intelligence suggesting possible jury intimidation.
Were there any charges in the cop's death?
Long was initially charged with murder and conspiracy to steal.
At the time of the charges - September 18, 2019 - Long said: "I don't give a f**k about any of this."
All three teens denied murder.
Long admitted to killing the officer during a trial, however, and said it made him feel "disgraceful." The 19-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Cole and Bowers were also found guilty of manslaughter after two days of jury deliberation. Long was sentenced to 16 years in jail; the passengers were sentenced to 13 years each. The boys were seen laughing and smirking throughout their trial at the Old Bailey in London. At one point, Bowers seemingly fell asleep while lawyers showed footage of the incident.
What has his wife Lissie Harper said?
Harper's heartbroken widow, Lissie, said she faces her "own life sentence" after the teens were cleared of murder charges. She described her late husband as "selfless, beautiful and heroic," and called his killers "senseless, barbaric and brutal." Lissie cried when the teens were cleared of murder and said she was "immensely disappointed" in the verdict.
Since the trial, she has campaigned for Harper's Law in the United Kingdom - which the government has also backed. The law would make anyone found guilty of unlawfully killing an emergency service worker receive a life sentence. She said: "I pledge to my late husband to never stop until I have made the difference that this country clearly needs.
What has his wife Lissie Harper said?
Harper's heartbroken widow, Lissie, said she faces her "own life sentence" after the teens were cleared of murder charges.
She described her late husband as "selfless, beautiful and heroic," and called his killers "senseless, barbaric and brutal."
Lissie cried when the teens were cleared of murder and said she was "immensely disappointed" in the verdict.
Since the trial, she has campaigned for Harper's Law in the United Kingdom - which the government has also backed.
The law would make anyone found guilty of unlawfully killing an emergency service worker receive a life sentence.
She said: "I pledge to my late husband to never stop until I have made the difference that this country clearly needs.
What is Harper's Law?
In the documentary, Lissie reveals the crushing moment the three teenagers were convicted of manslaughter but not murder. Although they were jailed for a combined total of 42 years, the lack of a murder conviction and their apparent lack of remorse, including pictures of them joking outside the trial, pushed Lissie to take drastic action.
PC Harper's killing led to the proposal of Harper's Law, which would introduce a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of killing emergency workers. Finally, after months of pushing, Lissie had a meeting with the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary, who confirmed that the Government supported the Law and wanted to attach it to an upcoming Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Lissie speaks out
Get Reading reports that Lissie has posted a message on her Facebook page ahead of the documentary. It says: "At the beginning of 2021 I was approached with the idea of being part of a documentary to tell the story of my battle for justice after my husband was killed in 2019. I considered this for a long time but ultimately decided it was a way to help my Harper’s Law campaign to achieve change and justice.
"So after many full on months of filming, many days in which I wanted to throw in the towel, feeling drained from the pain you endure when telling your personal story of trauma, it is finally time for the show to air. I was honoured to work with legendary Sir Trevor McDonald, who was a true joy to meet and spend time with and I will never forget being interviewed by him.
"Myself and Andrew Fiddler [of TVP Federation] invested lots of our time into this campaign and he continued to support me even knowing that taking part in a documentary as well as trying to create a new law took everything I had. I will always be grateful for that."
The Killing of PC Harper: A Widow's Fight for Justice with air on Tuesday, March 15 on ITV at 9pm.
'Harper's Law' bill receives Royal Assent
A justice bill giving mandatory life sentences to the killers of emergency services workers has become law after receiving Royal Assent.
The bill for England and Wales was announced alongside three others by the government as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act.
The government said the act would double the maximum penalty from 12 months to two years for those who assault police or other emergency workers, "helping to protect those who put their lives on the line to keep communities safe".
It added: "It will also bring Harpers Law onto the statute book, introducing mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker whilst committing a crime."
The law will also apply to prison officers, fire service personnel, and frontline health workers.
Home Secretary Priti Patel called the announcement a "landmark moment" that would "make sure the very worst criminals are thrown behind bars for the longest possible time".
The Home Secretary met Mrs Harper during the Harper's Law campaign.
She previously said people who sought to harm emergency workers represented the "worst of humanity" and that it was "right that future killers be stripped of the freedom to walk our streets with a life sentence".
PC Harper was answering a late-night burglary call and giving chase when he became entangled in a strap attached to a getaway vehicle.
His injuries were so catastrophic one of his colleagues could not recognise him.
Henry Long, the 19-year-old leader of the group, admitted manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years.
Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey and given 13-year sentences.
Mrs Harper has said she intends to "retire" from public life and "move forwards" once Harper's Law is passed.
"I know for a fact that Andrew would want me to be happy," she said.
On November 24, 2021, the Ministry of Justice announced that they would introduce "Harper's Law", a bill extending mandatory life sentences 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." The law was added to the statute book on 28 April 2022 and is now law. Both the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Justice Secretary Dominic Raab credited Lissie Harper's campaign with convincing them to pass the law. Law did not affect the sentences of the three men already imprisoned for killing Andrew Harper.