The offenders, whose crimes lead to the death of an emergency service employee on duty, will receive mandatory life sentences under a new law brought after the death of a police officer, Andrew Harper.
The decision, announced by the government, follows a two-year campaign by Lissie Harper, whose husband was killed while answering a theft call late at night. She previously said she was outraged by the sentences handed down to the three teenagers responsible for his death.
The new legislation, called Harpers Law, will enter the statute books through an amendment to existing police, crime, sentencing and court law and is likely to take effect early next year.
Harper said: It has been a long journey and a lot of hard work. I know Andrew would be proud to see Harpers’s law reach this milestone.
Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years and Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were sentenced to 13 years for the murder of PC Harper, 28. Long, the group leader, admitted murder by negligence while his passengers , Cole and Bowers, were convicted of manslaughter after a trial in Old Bailey. The jury acquitted all three of the murder.
Harper died from his injuries when he was caught in a strapped belt at the back of a car and dragged down a winding country road as the trio fled the scene of a four-wheeled theft in Sulhamstead, Berkshire. on the night of August 15, 2019.
The sentences prompted Lissie Harper to lobby the government to better protect emergency workers, a definition that includes police officers, National Crime Agency officers, prison officers, detention officers, firefighters and paramedics.
Announcing the intended change to the law, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: We will pass into law mandatory life sentences for those who illegally kill an emergency worker in the line of duty. I pay tribute to Lissie Harpers’ extraordinary campaign. This government is on the side of the victims and their families and we want our emergency services to know that they are always on the right track.
Host Patel, Home Secretary, said: The murder of PC Andrew Harpers was shocking. As well as a dedicated police officer, he was a man and a boy. Thanks to the dedication of Lissie and his family, I am proud to be able to honor Andrews life by introducing Harpers’s law.
Lissie Harper said emergency services workers require extra protection after being put at risk and in depth of risk on a regular basis. She hopes Harpers’ law will provide that protection and said she was pleased with the law change.
Courts now have to impose life sentences for murder, although such sentences may apply to other violent offenses.
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