Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Liam Thorp

Rishi Sunak backtracks on pledge to make killers like Thomas Cashman appear in court

Rishi Sunak has backtracked on a promise to act quickly to force killers like Thomas Cashman to appear in court in a betrayal of victims’ families.

The PM failed to commit to changing the law before the next General Election to make them attend their sentencing hearings. This comes despite relatives of murder victims calling for ministers to stop dragging their feet.

The ECHO, the Labour Party and others have been calling for a change in the law that would make it more difficult for cowardly killers to hide away from the families they have torn apart at their sentencing hearings.

Our campaign was launched after Thomas Cashman refused to leave his cell when he was sentenced last month for the murder of 9-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Dovecot last summer. His outrageous actions exposed a legal loophole that allows criminals to evade a crucial part of the justice process and inflict more suffering on those they have wronged.

READ MORE: People 'feared the worst' when car roof cut off after crash

Last month the Ministry of Justice said changes would be made to the law ahead of the next election that would punish those criminals who refused to appear in court.

As the Mirror reports, Mr Sunak was pressed on the matter at a press conference in Japan this weekend but refused to commit to a change in the law ahead of the next General Election.

He said: "What happened to Olivia in the summer - my daughters are of a similar age and it's absolutely shocking. With regards to that we've got a commitment in place. It requires legislation and so we'll have to wait for the legislative opportunity but the commitment that we made stands."

Asked whether the change would come before the next election the PM twice refused to be drawn, saying: "We haven't published the fourth session legislation yet so I wouldn't make any… I'm in a zone now where I won't comment on any legislative things either until we actually publish".

Olivia’s brave mum Cheryl Korbel has said she doesn’t want others to face the same injustice that she and her family suffered as Cashman hid away from facing them.

She said: “I’d support a law that would force criminals to show up for sentencing. We were dragged right through that court case when we didn’t need to be. If he’d owned it from the beginning, we wouldn’t have had to be there. He was in that dock right through the trial and on the last day he said ‘I’m not going up’. It’s not fair.

“Why should we go through all that and then he gets the option of not being there? It’s like a kick in the teeth. He’s just a coward – and that’s being polite. I’ve got some slight comfort from him being behind bars. But he’s still got a roof over his head, three square meals, access to gyms and this, that and the other.”

The Labour Party has already been firm in its calls for a change in the law that will mean criminals can no longer hide from their victims and their families.

The party has vowed to give judges the option to force defendants to attend sentencing hearings and has suggested that those who hide away - like Cashman - could be punished as contempt of court.

Backing our campaign last year, Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “The unimaginable agony that Olivia’s family now carry can’t be erased. But we can honour Olivia’s memory, and her family’s courage, by establishing a change in the law.

“While the family bravely went to court for Olivia, and for justice, her killer was allowed to hide away. Refusing to face his punishment, he cowardly whimpered away in a cell. “That this has been allowed is a shameful gap in the system and one I’m determined to see closed.

“As Director of Public Prosecutions I saw the importance of victims and their families being able to face their perpetrators. It brings an element of closure, and gives victims of crime confidence that if they come forward the system will work wholly and fairly for them. Victims must be at the heart of our justice system.

“For Olivia, her mum, her family, and for all victims, who deserve nothing less than full justice, I stand squarely behind the Echo’s campaign for a change in the law.”

Baby rushed to intensive care after becoming unresponsive at home

Dad 'abandoned and forgotten' after spending eight months in hospital

Body of mum found by dog walker years after disappearance

People 'feared the worst' when car roof cut off after crash

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.