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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Matt Drake

The cowardly killers who refused to face their victims’ families in court

PA Media

Lucy Letby was branded a coward for refusing to turn up to her sentencing, but she isn't the first killer who has refused to face up to their crimes.

Letby, 33, will spend the rest of her life in jail for the "evil" murders and attempted murders of babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital neonatal unit between 2015 and 2016 where she worked as a nurse.

Now she is the most prolific child serial killer in modern British history and she was convicted by a jury after the longest murder trial in British history.

Shockingly, Letby refused to attend court for the rest of her verdicts last Friday, August 18, and she was absent for her sentencing today.

Mr Justice Goss handed down a whole-life order at Manchester Crown Court, speaking to the serial killer in her absence: "There was a malevolence bordering on sadism in your actions.

Lucy Letby refused to appear in court for her sentencing hearing (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
— (PA Wire)

"During the course of this trial you have coldly denied any responsibility for your wrongdoing.

"You will spend the rest of your life in prison."

The mother of Child E, a premature-born boy who died, and Child F, his twin brother who survived, told the court the nurse's refusal to appear was "just one final act of wickedness from a coward".

Here are just a few examples of other cowardly murderers who refused to face justice.

Thomas Cashman

Thomas Cashman refused to turn up for his sentencing
— (PA Media)

Cheryl Korbel, 47, whose child was killed in a shooting in Liverpool last year by killer Thomas Cashman on August 22 said his refusal to attend court was like a "kick in the teeth".

She has joined the families of Elle Edwards, Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa to demand a law change to stop offenders from "hiding", Mail Online reported.

Earlier this year, Cashman refused to leave his cell for sentencing after murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel.

He shot Olivia in her Dovecot home in Liverpool after chasing a convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee who tried to run into the girl's home in a bid to escape. As Ms Korbel tried to keep their door shut on nee, Cashman fired a shot which hit her wrist and also killed her daughter.

Cashman complained about his trial becoming a "circus" because the Crown Prosecution officials sang Queen's We Are the Champions following his verdict. The judge blasted his absence as "disrespectful".

Hashem Abedi

Hashem Abedi was caught smiling on CCTV before launching an attack on a prison officer (PA)
— (PA Media)

The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber Hashem Abedi refused to attend court. Hashem Abedi helped his older sibling Salman to plan the atrocity on 22 May 2017. The court heard during his trial that he was “just as guilty” as his older brother, who detonated the bomb during the attack.

Jordan McSweeney

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Jordan McSweeney
— (PA)

Serial offender Jordan McSweeney sexually assaulted and killed 35-year-old Zara Aleena as she walked home in June 2022. Jordan McSweeney was caught on CCTV drunkenly lurching in the street after being ejected from a pub for pestering a female member of staff.

He targeted at least five women before he turned his attention to 35-year-old Ms Aleena, as she walked home from a night out early on Sunday June 26.

Ms Aleena, who was training to be a solicitor, was found with severe head injuries and struggling to breathe. He refused to come up from the cells at the Old Bailey to be sentenced saying he did not want to watch footage of what he had done.

Koci Selamaj

Koci Selamaj murdered Sabina Nessa in 2021
— (PA Wire)

Koci Selamaj refused to show up in April last year as he was sentenced to 36 years for the murder of Sabina Nessa, 28, in Kidbrooke, South East London, in 2021. CCTV captured the moment he struck Sabina over the head 34 times with a metal traffic triangle.

Selamaj’s wife worked at the Grand Hotel and was living there at the time, after fleeing their home in fear for her life. He asked to meet his wife and tried to convince her to have sex in his car.

She refused and so he “skulked in the shadows”, armed with a metal warning triangle, for over 20 minutes before Ms Nessa walked past him on her way to meet friends shortly after 8.30pm. He did not answer police questions in interviews and has not explained his motive.

Emma Tustin

Emma Tustin tortured and murdered Arthur Labinjo-Hughes
— (West Midlands Police)

Emma Tustin missed court in December 2021 after being sentenced to a minimum of 29 years for the murder of toddler Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, in June 2020. Arthur, from Solihull in the West Midlands, was poisoned, starved and beaten.

Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter in December last year.

The child suffered an unsurvivable brain injury and faced “systematic brutality amounting to torture” in the lead up to his death.

Daniel White

Daniel White admitted to brutally strangling his wife Angie to death
— (Swansea Police)

Last year, Daniel White admitted to brutally strangling his wife Angie to death in their Swansea home in October last year. Police found her dead in the bedroom with sharp force trauma to her neck and a severed jugular vein. Just last month he refused to attend court to be handed down a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years and 10 months.

Levi Bellfield

Levi Bellfield also refused to attend court for murdering Milly Dowler
— (PA Media)

Another notorious British serial killer, Levi Bellfield, also refused to leave his cell as he was sentenced to life without parole for the murder and abduction of Milly Dowler who was just 13 years old.

Bellfield is thought to be the only criminal in UK legal history to be serving two whole-life orders.

He was given a whole life term for murdering Marsha McDonnell, 19, in 2003, murdering Amelie Delagrange, 22, and trying to murder Kate Sheedy, 18, in 2004.

He was already serving his sentence when he went on trial for killing Milly Dowler in 2002.

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