Zara Aleena’s aunt calls for law forcing murderers to attend sentencing

  • london
  • April 4, 2023
  • Comments Off on Zara Aleena’s aunt calls for law forcing murderers to attend sentencing
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Zara Aleena’s aunt is calling for longer sentences for criminals who refuse to face their victim’s family in court.

Farah Naz told BBC Breakfast murderers should have their jail terms extended if they do not listen to victim impact statements.

She said: ‘Surely the judgement is part of the punishment… we need to see that process will deter further crime and how can the process feel like a punishment if the convict exercises their bit of power?

‘It’s the last bit of power that needs to be taken away, certainly in our eyes.

‘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.’

By law, defendants are allowed to choose not to attend their sentencing hearing, but it’s sparked outrage from campaigners, who say this denies families the chance to see justice being served.

Thomas Cashman, who shot and killed Olivia Pratt-Korbel in her own home, refused to come out of his cell yesterday to face the nine-year-old’s loved ones.

His defence barrister rattled out an excuse that he was upset over prosecutors singing ‘We Are the Champions’ after the jury found him guilty.

A judge slammed Cashman’s absence as ‘deeply disrespectful’ to both the court and Olivia’s grieving family as he was handed a life sentence.

It meant Cashman – unlike the vast majority of criminals in the UK – did not have to listen to the victim impact statements read out in court.

In December, Zara’s killer Jordan McSweeney was jailed for life after committing ‘almost unimaginable violence’ on the law graduate as she walked home in Ilford, east London.

But he refused to leave his cell for sentencing because he did not want to watch the CCTV of what he did.

Ms Naz said the family wanted her killer to hear how he had ‘completely destroyed’ them.

After meeting with her family, justice secretary Dominic Raab said he was looking into whether the law could be changed to compel offenders to attend their sentencing, and grant judges powers to impose longer prison sentences on those who opt to skip court.

She added: ‘I think there are other ways to make the convict come to face their judgement and that would be to add time to their sentencing or there can be other ways.’

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