MINISTERS have been accused of being reluctant to introduce legislation that would force criminals like Lucy Letby to appear in court to hear their sentences.
The murderous nurse has threatened not to return to the dock and attend her sentencing hearing tomorrow or watch the proceedings from prison.
Under the laws proposed in the King’s speech in November, offenders must appear in court.
Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed last night said it was “extremely offensive” when killers refuse to acknowledge the consequences of their crimes.
He said: “If the accused does not come and be brought to justice, it is beyond cowardice and will have a devastating impact on families.”
“This is an essential part of justice.
“We called for new legislation in April last year, but Conservatives have hesitated.”
Trial judge Judge Goss said the court had no authority to compel the defendant to be present.
Among the other high-profile criminals who declined to appear in court for sentencing is 34-year-old Thomas Cashman, who killed nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel at her Liverpool home last August.
Mum Cheryl Korbel, 46, said it was “like a kick in the teeth”.
A Justice Department source said: “We are committed to changing the law as soon as possible.”
Request “is too weak”
Lawyers for the victims’ families last night called for the government’s Letby investigation to be tightened.
They called the investigation, which will not have the same authority as a judicial investigation, “inadequate”.
Richard Scorer and Yvonne Agnew of Slater and Gordon added: “Compelling witnesses to produce evidence or produce documents has no authority.
“And it must depend on the goodwill of those involved to make their statements. That’s not good enough.”