Thomas Cashman: Renewed call to force criminals to attend sentencing

Thomas Cashman: Renewed call to force criminals to attend sentencing

Apr 4, 2023, 11:11am BST

Updated 10 minutes ago

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Zara Aleena’s killer refused to appear in the dock during his sentencing hearing

The Government has been urged to press ahead with plans to force criminals to attend their sentencing hearings.

The aunt of another murder victim called on Justice Secretary Dominic Raab to speed up plans to force criminals to stand trial.

Farah Naz also wants judges to have the ability to punish those who refuse.

Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer said because Olivia’s family “couldn’t hide” from Cashman’s “horrendous crimes”… he shouldn’t either.

Mrs Naz’s granddaughter Zara Aleena was sexually assaulted and killed by Jordan McSweeney after he attacked the 35-year-old law graduate as she walked home from a night out in Ilford, Essex, on June 26.

Like Cashman, he also refused to attend his sentencing in person, leading Ms Naz to say he had mistakenly taken control of the courtroom.

She said: “It is the last point of power that needs to be removed [from offenders].

“I think there are other ways to make the convict face his trial and that would be to add time to the sentence, or there may be other ways.

“Otherwise, we don’t have people deterred from committing crimes – if they just move from cell to cell, there’s no point in punishing them.

“I would like Dominic Raab to go ahead with the development of this law.”

Image source, Family Flyer

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Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s killer also refused to appear in the dock


“Of course the trial is part of the punishment,” she asked.

“We all wanted to face him when we were reading the victim impact statements.

“We wanted to watch him watch the footage of Zara’s murder – what he did to her,” she said.

“As a result the whole legal process felt incomplete.

“He took over Zara and then … in the courtroom he took over. I felt like he could have that,” she said.

“Surely after they are convicted… all their rights are taken away?

Cashman, 34, killed Olivia and injured her mother Cheryl Korbel while chasing another drug dealer at their home in Dovecot on August 22.

Neither Cashman nor his intended target Joseph Nee were known to Ms. Korbel.

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Watch: Judge passes mandatory life sentence for killing Olivia Pratt-Korbel

Sentencing him in absentia at Manchester Crown Court, Ms Amanda Yip said drug dealer Cashman’s refusal to appear in court was “disrespectful” to Olivia’s family.

She said he was “of no previous good character”, had made it clear he was a criminal and had “demonstrated no remorse”.

“His failure to come to court is further evidence of that,” she said.

Image copyright Merseyside Police

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Thomas Cashman was convicted of murdering nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel

Commenting on Cashman’s refusal to enter the dock, a Ministry of Justice source said that Olivia and her family “were unable to hide from Thomas Cashman’s crime, so he should not be able to hide from Justice”.

The source said: “Exactly for this deputy prime minister [Dominic Raab] commit to changing the law so that offenders are forced to face the consequences of their actions.”

The BBC understands the government is looking to bring in new legislation before the next general election.

After McSweeney’s sentencing, Mr Raab said in February he was considering whether judges should be able to impose longer terms on those who refused to appear in court.

Labor leader Sir Keir added: “For some time we have been saying there needs to be a change in the law to stop this.

“For many victims and their families there is a sense of a void in the process if the defendant does not come forward and face justice. It is certainly cowardly.

“One of the ideas would be for the judge to have the power to increase the sentence if the defendant did not appear in court to face justice.

“We need to look at all the options – we need something that works.”

He added: “At the moment there is a deep sense of a gap for the victims and their families and we need to do something about it.

“We’ve been calling for it for some time now. The government says it’s interested in it.”

Other criminals who have refused to enter the dock include Koci Selamaj, who killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa in a park in south-east London in 2021, Zahid Younis, who killed Henriett Szucs and Mihrican Mustafa in London and kept their bodies in the refrigerator. in 2019, and Hashem Abedi, who helped his brother Salman kill 22 people in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.

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