Dominic Raab must ‘get on with it’ and force killers to appear in court, Sir Keir Starmer says

The Labour leader said the government could change the law ‘easily’ and could have solved the problem a year ago

Archie Mitchell
Political Correspondent
Thursday 06 April 2023 18:47 BST
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‘Get on with it’, Starmer tells Raab over plans to force killers to appear in court for sentencing.
‘Get on with it’, Starmer tells Raab over plans to force killers to appear in court for sentencing. (PA Wire)

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Sir Keir Starmer called on Dominic Raab to “get on with it” and force killers to appear in court for sentencing.

The Labour leader said criminals like the killer of Olivia Pratt-Korbel should not be able to “hide from justice” by refusing to appear in the dock.

Thomas Cashman, the drug-dealing gunman who was sentenced to at least 42 years in prison for murdering the nine-year-old, refused to attend court for his sentencing.

In response, Raab promised the law would be changed to stop killers hiding from victims. The justice secretary said: “Spineless criminals like Cashman who hide from their sentencing prolong the suffering of victims and their families.

“As I have already made clear, I plan to change the law to compel offenders to face up to their actions, so victims can see the justice they deserve being served.”

But speaking to the Mirror, Sir Keir said Mr Raab could change the law “easily” and needed to “get on with it”.

He said: “If the government wanted to do this, they could have done this a year ago.”

"We’ve got a government that is very keen on talking about problems and not very good at solving them.

“The latest case with Olivia’s family in Liverpool was an awful example. But it’s not the only example. There are other cases where exactly the same thing has happened.

“We need to change the law. We’ve got to stop this. I think it’s very important that we put ourselves in the shoes of the families and relatives of victims here and they feel very strongly about this.

“They were not able to hide from the perpetrators’ offences and the perpetrator shouldn’t be able to hide from justice and so we’ve got to change the law here.”

The mother of murdered student Libby Squire has also called for a change to ensure criminals who avoid sentencing hearings are handed longer jail terms. She joined the murdered teacher Sabina Nessa’s sister in calling for killers to be forced to attend court .

Killer: Cashman was sentenced to life with a minimum of 42 years.
Killer: Cashman was sentenced to life with a minimum of 42 years. (PA)

Pratt-Korbel’s killer was sentenced to life in prison on Monday as her anguished mother asked how he carried on shooting despite his nine-year-old victim’s screams.

Thomas Cashman may die behind bars after being found guilty of shooting the girl inside her home during a botched gangland assassination.

The 34-year-old gunman refused to appear in the dock at Manchester Crown Court to be sentenced, but Cheryl Korbel brought a teddy made from her daughter’s pyjamas into the witness box as she described how Cashman had “left the biggest hole in our lives”.

Cashman’s lawyer said his client would not attend the sentencing because he was aware Crown Prosecution Service officials had sung “We are the Champions” after his guilty verdict and felt his trial was “turning into a circus”.

But Mrs Justice Amanda Yip called his non-attendance “disrespectful”. Noting that “the mental scars from that night will persist forever”, she said in her sentencing remarks that Cashman “has not acknowledged his responsibility for Olivia’s death and so has demonstrated no remorse”, adding: “His failure to come into court is further evidence of that.”

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