The aunt of murdered Zara Aleena has urged Dominic Raab to develop a law forcing criminals to attend their sentencing – after Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s killer refused to go to court yesterday.
Thomas Cashman, 34, refused to appear in the dock as he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 42 years at Manchester Crown Court for the fatal shooting of the nine-year-old schoolgirl in Dovecot, Liverpool, on August 22 last year.
It comes after Jordan McSweeney, 29, refused to leave his cell as he was sentenced for the murder of aspiring lawyer Ms Aleena in December.
McSweeney was handed a life sentence and jailed for at least 38 years in his absence after admitting the sexual assault and murder of the 35-year-old in Ilford, east London, in June last year.
Ms Aleena’s aunt Farah Naz today called on the Government to ‘move forward’ with a proposed law to force criminals to attend court or extend their jail time if they refuse.
Farah Naz, the aunt of murdered aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena, pictured during a Million Women Rise march from Oxford Street to Trafalgar Square in London last month
Thomas Cashman, 34, refused to appear in the dock as he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 42 years at Manchester Crown Court
McSweeney, who had 28 previous convictions, refused to attend his sentencing for the murder of Ms Aleena because he ‘didn’t want to relive’ the night
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘Surely the judgment is part of the punishment… we need to see that the process will deter further crime and how can the process feel like a punishment if the convict actually exercises their bit of power?
‘It’s the last bit of power that needs to be taken away, certainly in our eyes. I think there are other ways to make the convict come to face their judgment and that would be to add time to their sentencing or there can be other ways.
‘Otherwise we don’t have people deterred from committing crimes if they’re just moving from cell to cell there’s no sense of punishment.
‘I would like Dominic Raab to move forward with developing this law.’
Recalling the sentencing of McSweeney, Ms Naz said she had wanted to see the murderer ‘face his crime’, but instead was left feeling ‘incomplete’.
She added: ‘We wanted to be able to see him be sentenced, be judged and to face the courtroom to face his judgement. We wanted to watch him watch the footage of him murdering Zara and what he did to her.
We wanted to see the humanity and for him to have the moment where he could face his crime and for a moment it was an opportunity for him to be human and face us.
‘As a result, the whole process felt incomplete, he legal process felt incomplete. A judgement in our mind feels like part of the punishment.
‘It is a full stop. Here is the crime, here is the judgement and now begins your sentence.
‘It felt like he still had some amount of power. He took power over Zara and then in the courtroom he took power.
Ms Naz, a psychotherapist, also said criminals should be ‘incentivised’ to attend their sentencing hearings.
Zara Aleena (pictured) was sexually assaulted and murdered in Ilford, east London, in June last year
Nine-year-old schoolgirl Olivia Pratt-Korbel was shot dead inside her home in Dovecot, Liverpool, on August 22 last year
Her comments come after Cashman did not face Olivia’s family yesterday, whining about Crown Prosecution Service lawyers turning his trial into a ‘circus’ because they had celebrating putting him behind bars.
Defence barrister John Cooper KC told the sentencing the killer would not attend the hearing because he was aware that CPS officials had sung ‘We Are The Champions’ following the verdict.
He said: ‘He has been spoken to and been given certain advice but he is concerned that the matter is turning into a circus.’
Trial judge Mrs Justice Yip said she regarded his lack of attendance as ‘disrespectful’ to not only the court but those interested in proceedings, including the family of the deceased.
But she made it clear she did not extend his sentence to take into account his cowardly behaviour.
A Ministry of Justice source said ministers are now pursuing a law change to ensure criminals face their sentencing in person.
They said: ‘Olivia Pratt-Korbel and her family weren’t able to hide from Thomas Cashman’s crime – so he shouldn’t be able to hide from justice.
‘This is exactly why the Deputy Prime Minister is committed to changing the law so that offenders are forced to face the consequences of their actions.’
Mr Raab wants to change the law to add time onto sentences for criminals who refuse to attend their own sentencing.
Cheryl Korbel (centre) listens as Detective Superintendent Mark Baker makes a statement outside Manchester Crown Court
But former Old Bailey judge Wendy Joseph KC said there are ‘practical difficulties’ in creating such a law.
She said: ‘There is a compelling case for encouraging defendants to be in court for the sentencing exercise, but there are real practical difficulties.
‘If a defendant refused to leave the prison estate, you are talking about handcuffing him, tying him up, manhandling him into a van, manhandling him into courtroom.
‘Even if you do that, if someone is determined not to take part in a hearing, you can’t actually force him to look into the eyes of the person who is describing the trauma that he has inflicted on their family.
‘You can’t force him to listen if he puts his fingers in his ears. There are certain things you can do to encourage him, but you don’t want to deprive one of the most serious moments of a court case of the gravity of its meaning.’
Cashman became the latest in strong of high-profile killers who have lacked the character to take their punishment in person.
McSweeney, who had 28 previous convictions, refused to attend his sentencing for the murder of Ms Aleena because he ‘didn’t want to relive’ the night.
he had attempted to follow several women that night before he violently attacked Ms Aleena when she was ‘just minutes’ away from her home.
He stalked her along Cranbrook Road before dragging her into a driveway where he brutally kicked, stamped on and sexually assaulted her, before leaving her for dead.
Emergency services were called at 2.44am after she was found with severe head injuries and struggling to breathe.
Ms Aleena was taken to hospital where she died later that morning from multiple injuries.