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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Widow's anger at burglar penalty
Martin Harris
Harris had stolen money to feed his heroin addiction
The widow of a policeman killed in a tragic accident as he chased a burglar has said she feels let down by the justice system.

Magistrates in Cardiff decided not to jail drug addict Martin Harris, who broke into the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to steal money to feed his habit.

Pc Andrew James, 38, stumbled and fell in front of a passing car as he chased Harris. The officer, from Caerphilly, died later in hospital.

Harris - who had 109 previous convictions - admitted burglary, but when he appeared at court for sentence on Monday , he was ordered to undergo treatment for his drug problems.

Pc James's wife Sharon said: "I am shocked that he has walked free. Andrew was doing his duty to protect the public from people like Harris.

"He should have been given the maximum sentence for burglary, especially with his criminal record. At least then some justice would have been done."

The law sides with criminals. It has failed me, our daughter and Andrew's colleagues.
Pc James' widow, Sharon
"This man meant nothing to us before and means nothing to us now. I won't waste time hating him - he is a nobody.

"But I would,like to think he does feel some remorse and Andrew's death will be on his conscience."

Pc James' parents, Ray and Gaynor James, said no sentence would be enough to compensate for what had happened.

"Drug addicts need to be given a harsh message in that however petty and trivial their theft is, a police officer will be required to do that duty," they said in a statement.

"Martin Harris' actions resulted in Andrew losing his life causing utter tragedy for his family.

"His sentence is immaterial, as we are serving his sentence for him and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

"We hope and pray that Martin Harris has Andrew's death on his conscience and will benefit from the drug treatment imposed." But Pc James' widow, who is a nurse, fears Harris will quickly forget the part he played in her husband's death.

Pc James and his niece Catrin
Pc James' family have been devastated by the tragedy
She added that she could not forgive Harris for not going to her husband's aid.

"He knew Andrew had been killed," she said. "He was there and must have seen it happen.

"But instead of turning to help my husband he fled - and then he didn't even have the decency to give himself up for days.

"I thought he was some frightened teenager who was too scared to come forward. I would have understood that.

"But he is a 35-year-old man and he knows the difference between right and wrong."

Mrs James said she refused to be bitter, but felt let down by the courts.

"The police did their job really well and have been very supportive all the way through," she said.

Pc James' funeral
Pc James had full police honours at his funeral
"But when it gets to court that's when the law sides with criminals. It has failed me, our daughter and Andrew's colleagues in the police force. We all felt let down.

"This man had 109 previous convictions. What do the courts need before they will stop people like him walking free?

"But if I don't distance myself I will be a victim as well and enough lives have already been destroyed.

"I haven't got the luxury of falling apart - I have to be there for my two girls. It's just the three of us now."

Mrs James has a daughter Keighley, 17, from a previous relationship. Pc James took her on as his own daughter when they were married eight years ago. Their daughter Emily was born five years ago.


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