Merseyside PCC urges Justice Secretary to amend legislation to require offenders to attend sentencing hearings in person

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is joining calls for the introduction of new legislation that would stop convicted criminals from choosing to be absent as sentence is being passed. 

Following the tragic murder of Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Dovecot and the subsequent cowardice of Thomas Cashman who chose to hide away in his cell after being found guilty of the nine-year old’s murder, Emily Spurrell is writing to the Justice Secretary urging him to accelerate any intention he has to alter the law so as to prevent despicable criminals like Cashman from avoiding being present as judges pass sentence.

Sentencing Cashman to 42 years in prison in his absence, Mrs Justice Yip, described his cowardly act as “disrespectful to the family of the deceased”. That behaviour has prompted an increase in calls to make the appearance of convicted criminals mandatory at all future sentencing hearings.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said, “My heart goes out to Olivia’s family and others like them who have experienced this ultimate insult. To deny the family of gaining a measure of closure by refusing to attend court to face up to his sentence shows you what type of individual Cashman and others like him are.

“Sadly, Olivia’s case isn’t unique; Hashem Abedi refused to leave his cell during proceedings when he was convicted of the murder of twenty-two people in the Manchester Arena terror attack. More recently, sexual predator Jordan McSweeney refused to attend his sentencing for the murder of Zara Aleena in Ilford.

“If Victims and their families are present in court to share their impact statements, why should a convicted criminal be allowed to choose to be absent? Murderers and others who commit these heinous crimes shouldn’t be allowed to wield that power over bereaved families.

“That is why I’m writing to the Justice Secretary, echoing calls for the mandatory appearance of all convicted criminals at sentencing hearings, so that the justice system reflects and recognises the harrowing experience of bereaved families, by removing the power of refusal to appear from criminals, instead compelling them to do so, or face tougher jail terms. Only then will families, like Olivia’s, get a true sense of justice”.

The launch of a campaign and government petition by local station Radio City has received backing from across the Labour Party, including Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed and London Mayor Sadiq Khan as well as from local MPs right across the region.


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