Criminals refusing to attend sentencing like Lucy Letby will ‘be forced’

Criminals who refuse to attend sentencing in court like baby killing nurse Lucy Letby will now “be forced” to do so under new legislation.

The country was united in disgust when Letby refused to turn up to court to hear that she was going to spend the rest of her life rotting in prison for murdering seven babies while working at a hospital.

And further anger ensued when it emerged that judges were unable to do anything to make criminals such as Letby appear.

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But that is now changing, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

New powers will be given to judges to make an order demanding criminals attend sentencings, and they will also allow custody officers to use “reasonable force” to carry out the instructions, Sky News reports.

The decision of whether or not to use the power will remain solely with the judge, and how that order is carried out will be at the discretion of prison staff and custody officers.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “It is unacceptable that some of the country's most horrendous criminals have refused to face their victims in court.

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“They cannot and should not be allowed to take the coward's way out.

“That's why we are giving judges the power to order vile offenders to attend their sentencing hearings, with those who refuse facing being forced into the dock or spending longer behind bars.”

In recent years, other criminals to avoid hearing what their punishments were include Thomas Cashman who short youngster Olivia Pratty-Korbel dead in Liverpool last year.

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He was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 42 years.

And Emma Tustin, who killed six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes refused to go to court to hear how she was going to be spending the rest of her life at HMP Peterborough.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk added: "Every time a cowardly criminal hides from justice by refusing to appear in the dock for their sentencing it is another insult to their victims and their families.

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"Our reforms will give judges the power to order offenders to come to court to hear the impact of their crimes directly from victims, so that they begin their sentences with society's condemnation ringing in their ears."

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