Criminals who refuse to attend sentencing hearings should be handed longer jail terms, the mother of murdered student Libby Squire has said.
Lisa Squire, whose 21-year-old daughter was raped and murdered in 2019, said she was “horrified” when she learned that criminals are not legally required to be in court as they are sentenced.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has come under growing pressure to ensure killers cannot avoid appearing in court, after Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s murderer, Thomas Cashman, refused to attend his sentencing hearing on Monday.
Ms Squire told BBC Breakfast: “If you’re not going to play by the rules then you need to be punished, it’s quite simple, they should get another five years.”
She said she “felt sorry” that the family of the nine-year-old never had the opportunity to see him sentenced in court.
Ms Squire, who now campaigns against sexual offences, read out a statement to her daughter’s murderer Pawel Relowicz in court, as he was jailed for a minimum term of 27 years.
She said: “It was really important for me to tell him what he had done, you almost take back a bit of their power by watching them be handed down their sentence.
“He actually didn’t react to his sentencing, but it was just nice to know that he knew we was watching.
“I wanted him to know how we felt and what Libby meant to us.”
On Tuesday Mr Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, 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.”
Ms Squire also sent a message to Olivia’s family, saying: “Life does go on and you never feel like you can live around it, but eventually you do learn to live round the most horrific things.
“Their little girl was way more important than him, so like I do with Libby, I focus on her not him, because she is the important one, the same way Olivia is way more important than him.”