THE widow of a York police officer who died on duty 25 years ago today says she has never recovered from her devastating loss.

Frances Ellerker says her life was “destroyed” at 5.15am on Boxing Day, 1993, when a police superintendent knocked on her door to tell her that her husband, PC Richard Ellerker, inset, had died at York police station of a massive heart attack.

She said his death came just after he had arrested a violent drunken man in York city centre.

She said she had always believed this was a key factor in his death, and he might otherwise still be alive today.

Frances said she was speaking out now to ensure that Richard was not forgotten, and also that people appreciated the work police did on a regular basis.

PC Ellerker’s North Yorkshire Police roll of honour citation states: “While on foot patrol in York, he arrested a drunk and violent male. Sustaining injuries, a short while later he collapsed and died of a heart attack.”

Frances, of Shipton-by-Beningbrough, near Easingwold, said colleagues battled in vain to save her husband, and she could never forgive the violent drunk for his actions that night.

“I will always feel anger and hatred for him for what he took away,” she said.

“I was told that after he was informed Richard had died, he smirked and said: ‘That’s another b*****d off the streets.’

“Richard was the love of my life and I have never really got over his death, and probably never will. I have really struggled.

“My heart was broken - it took away half of my heart and there’s a big hole that can never be filled.

“My daughter Anna has been such a support at times when I have been really low.”

She said the timing of the tragedy meant Christmas was always a particularly “horrendous” time for her, Anna and her other children, Paul, Daniel and Jessica.

“I couldn’t even buy a Christmas tree for the first seven years afterwards,” she said.

“My family finally persuaded me to put up a tree and decorations but on Boxing Day every year, I completely remove everything by 12.30am and there is not a sign of Christmas in the house by the time Richard died.”

She said that on the Christmas Day evening, she and Richard had been watching the film Ghost on TV when Richard had to leave to go on the night shift.

“We had a routine which we always kept. I said: ‘I love you. Take care. Be safe,’ and he said: 'I love you too,’ and those were the last words we ever said to each other.”

She said Richard had served for many years as a village bobby in the Easingwold area until transferring to York about six months before his death.

She said he was known for his caring and compassionate nature and, at his packed funeral, fellow officers praised his commitment and compassion.

“Some months after he died some travellers knocked on the door and said they wanted to check I was all right.

“They said they called him The Governor because he had always treated them with respect and as human beings.”