The widow of PC Andrew Harper said her husband’s killers “stole the person that I used to be”.
Speaking ahead of the sentencing of three teenagers, who combined received 42 years behind bars for the Thames Valley Police officer’s manslaughter, Lissie Harper said his death left her with a “hollowness”.
PC Harper was killed when he was dragged behind a car after responding to a report of a quadbike theft in Berkshire in August 2019.
Lissie was left distraught after jurors cleared getaway driver Henry Long and passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers of murder, instead resulting in all three being sentenced for manslaughter.
Below is her full statement, presented ahead of the three teenagers’ sentencing.
This is my third attempt at writing a victim impact statement.
After many words of anguish, scriptures of love and testimonies of heart break, I sit at this task with an emptiness that I without pretence admit that in an attempt to describe what impact Andrew’s death has had on me I simply find myself in a lost and endless world of numb despair.
Perhaps the reason that this question in particular defeats me is because until and unless you have stood in my shoes, unless you have had the immense misfortune of losing a husband or a wife, a soul mate, true love or beloved partner whom you intended to be with until your dying day, then how is this grief and loss even possible to describe?
I have used every word in my vocabulary to describe the pain, torture and hopelessness that I feel, I have written poems and letters and messages of love and devastation over the indescribable trauma that I have been forced to endure these past 11 months.
I have screamed and cried and broken down in fractured defeat and yet when it is this moment that I am asked to explain my impacted life that the hollowness of loss truly appears.
My husband was brutally killed four weeks after our wedding day… What impact has this had on my life? Need I repeat the devastating details and the cruelty in which this occurred? Should I speak again of how we were robbed of our future? Of the plans that were stolen from us? Should I describe my torment over the children that will never come to be? Or like so many people are these heartbreaking details etched into your mind in the shattering way that they will forever remain in mine?
Four weeks was all I had to call him my husband, four weeks to be called his wife. My life often feels bleak, hopeless, irreparable.
My desolate nights bring no rest, no time for reprieve from this utter turmoil.
Every aspect of my life since Andrew was taken is bitterly different.
Every moment of my life before Andrew was taken was imprinted with his love and his presence. A fact in which I alone can only truly understand.
So not only did these men take my true, beautiful love away from me, not only did they rob a brother, son, uncle and friend from all who love him, but they took our future too.
They took more than one life away that day.
They stole the person that I used to be, the happiness that we shared and the beautiful plans we had made together.
That night as I opened the door to the stranger in uniform before me, everything I had known in my life to be true was robbed away.
Every ounce of beautiful peace, gone.
So in answer to the question of how Andrew’s death has impacted me… well you would be justified in your knowledge that I am without question a mere shadow of the person I once was, broken, distraught, beaten.
An empty shell, void of the contented life I once loved.
Please do not let the sacrifice that he was forced and unknowingly made to give stand for nothing. He gave everything.
A bitter reality that I must face and endure for the rest of my life, every second, every minute, every day.
Whatever is decided today in these courts… it will never bring Andrew back.
Andrew will never grace us with his smile, his compassion and his selfless generosity and love as he used to do.
I will spend every day of the rest of my life with a hollowness that will never ever be filled.
An indescribable reality that no amount of words will ever fully reveal.
Yet again I search around for the words to express my heartbreak, yet each description of grief appears inadequate and incomplete.