Law forcing killers to appear before victims’ families could be shelved | British News
A law that pressures killers to appear in court for their sentences, otherwise they could stay behind bars for “cowardly” behavior, risks being shelved.
The Prime Minister has refused to commit to the new legislation before the next election, leaving the law up in the air.
Dominic Raab had pledged to stop those convicted of the most serious crimes refusing to appear before their victims’ families after a series of cases sparked outrage.
He vowed to act while under pressure over the killers of nine-year-old victims Olivia Pratt-Korbel, Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa before resigning as justice secretary after being criticized in a bullying investigation.
However, while Mr Sunak insisted the commitment would remain “in force”, he refused to say whether the law will be introduced before the next general election, which is expected in 2024.
When asked by reporters during a trip to the G7 summit in Japan, the prime minister said: “What happened to Olivia over the summer… my daughters are a similar age and it’s absolutely shocking.”
“We have made a commitment in that regard. Legislation is needed and so we must wait for the legislative opportunity, but the commitment we have made remains.”
Asked if it will come before the country goes to the polls, Mr Sunak said: “We haven’t published the legislation for the fourth session yet, so I wouldn’t do it… I don’t comment on tax policy, I do. ‘I’m in a zone now where I won’t comment on legislative stuff either until we actually publish it.’
Thomas Cashman was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 42 years for the fatal shooting of Olivia at her home in Dovecot, Liverpool, while stalking another drug dealer.
Sex offender Jordan McSweeney murdered 35-year-old law student Aleena on her way home in Ilford, east London, and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 38 years.
Koci Selamaj received a life sentence with a minimum of 36 years for murdering primary school teacher Ms Nessa after he traveled to London to assault a random woman.
Each of the men refused to appear in court for the hearing of the sentences, and the sentences were pronounced in their absence.
Olivia’s mother, Cheryl Korbel, has called for a change in the law to ensure criminals are convicted in court, saying Cashman’s absence was “like a kick in the teeth”.
As recently as April, Mr Raab said he would change laws to force “spineless” offenders to stand trial to prevent them prolonging the suffering of victims and families.
How this would happen was unclear, but it would have been possible to give judges the power to impose longer sentences on those who remain in their cells.
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