Rishi Sunak backtracks on law to force killers like Thomas Cashman to appear in court

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The killer of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel refused to appear in court, last month.

A Government pledge to pressure killers like Thomas Cashman to appear in court for their sentences is at risk of being shelved after Rishi Sunak refused to commit to the the new law before the next general election.

Dominic Raab had previously committed to prevent those convicted of the most serious crimes from refusing to appear in court, after a series of cases, including the murder of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, sparked mass outrage.

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During a trip to the G7 summit in Japan, the Prime Minister insisted the committment is still in place, stating: “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.”

However, he refused to confirm whether the legislation would be in place by the next general election, commenting: “We haven’t published the fourth session legislation yet so I wouldn’t make any... I don’t comment on tax policy, I’m in a zone now where I won’t comment on any legislative things either until we actually publish.”

Increased calls for the legislation: Calls for the law to be changed increased after the murderer of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel refused to appear in the dock, last month.

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Cashman, of Grenadier Drive in West Derby, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 42 years on April 3, however refused to be present for the sentencing. Mrs Justice Amanda Yip said his absence was “disrespectful” to the court and Olivia’s family, and Olivia’s mother, Cheryl Korbel described it as “like a kick in the teeth”.

Koci Selamaj received life with at least 36 years for murdering primary school teacher Ms Nessa after travelling to London to carry out the attack, and also refused to appear in court.

The legislation: The exact details of how the law would work haven’t yet been detailed, but could include giving judges the power to impose longer terms on those who stay in their cells.