The widow of Pc Andrew Harper has said she has her own “life sentence to bear”, after the three teenagers who dragged him to his death were cleared of murder.
Lissie and Andrew Harper had been married for just a month when he was killed by Henry Long, 19, and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, as they tried to steal a quad bike.
Pc Harper was dragged for more than a mile along the country lanes of Berkshire when he became entangled in a tow rope attached to the teenagers’ getaway car.
Lissie Harper said she was “utterly shocked and appalled” on Friday when the jury acquitted all three defendants of murder, instead convicting Cole and Bowers of manslaughter.
Long had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.
Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Mrs Harper said: “I honestly thought I would be addressing you after a very different verdict.
“I had planned to talk of the beautiful future Andrew and I had before us, I expected my words to be so very different, and in all honesty I am for the second time in the space of one year utterly shocked and appalled.”
She said she and Pc Harper’s family had put their faith in the courts “for many, many agonising months”, in the hope of getting justice for her husband.
“The way in which Andrew was robbed of his life we all know to be barbaric and inexplicable,” she said, adding: “I am immensely disappointed with the verdict given today.”
“He went out night after night risking his life for the safety and the wellbeing of the innocent, as all police officers do with passion,” she continued.
“Ultimately he laid down his life for us all and it pains me more than I can ever explain that this has not been appreciated by the very people who should have seen his heroic and selfless duty, as so many other members of the public – total strangers – clearly do.”
Mrs Harper said she would never come to terms with how “such a beautiful, loving, decent human being could be dealt this fate”.
“I now have my own life sentence to bear, and believe me when I say it will be a lot more painful, soul destroying and painful journey than anyone facing a meagre number of years in prison will experience,” she said.
“Myself and our family will spend the rest of our days missing him, loving him and being utterly proud of the incredible man that he was.
“We will never forget the kindness that we as a family have received from all who have supported us over the last year – friends, family and total strangers and the almighty unity of the thin blue line.
“From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”