Less than a week after what would have been Olivia Pratt Korbel’s 10th birthday her mother, Cheryl Korbel, attended Radio City’s Face the Family summit in Liverpool earlier this week (Monday 19 June). The summit was the latest step in Radio City’s campaign calling for a change in the law forcing offenders to appear in court when they’re sentenced.
Families, legal experts and politicians from across the country came together to discuss the impact the current system has on victims. Among the attendees were Lisa Squire, the mother of student Libby Squire who was murdered on a night out in Hull, as well as Farah Naz, the auntie of Zara Aleena who too was killed as she walked home in London. Former Chief Prosecutor for the North West Nazir Afzal, representatives from RASA Merseyside and local councillors also spoke at the event.
Radio City launched the ‘Face the Family’ campaign in April following the public outrage as Thomas Cashman, the murderer of 9-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, refused to come up from the cells to be sentenced, depriving her family of the opportunity to read their victim impact statements to him. The petition has already garnered hundreds of signatures as well as gaining high profile backing from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed.
Radio City News Editor Sophie Merrick who is spearheading the campaign said:
‘We’re really proud to host our first ever ‘Face the Family’ Summit and we hope that by bringing those affected together in one room we can learn more about why it is so important that offenders are present in court for sentencing.
We’ve had a lot of support for the campaign from some high-profile names, but most importantly, those families who feel the justice system has let them down and who want to push for a change in the law.
We’re honoured to have Cheryl Korbel with us, as it was her experience in the courtroom that has helped us galvanise so much support and as ever, Radio City stands shoulder to shoulder with our communities when they face their most difficult moments.’
Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne could not attend the summit as he was in Westminster but via video apologised for not being there and thanked Radio City for everything they’re doing to push Face the Family locally and nationally ‘because this is a hugely important campaign that has affected Cheryl and many other families. My job now is to push this in Westminster to ensure legislation change.’ To that end the Labour MP has already written to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Justice and laid down an Early Day Motion outlining key asks from a legislation perspective.
Also in attendance was Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell who said:
‘I fully support this campaign. That’s why I have directly asked the Ministry of Justice to look again at changing legislation. I have also written to the Secretary of State urging him to accelerate any plans Government has to bring about a change, as well as encouraging our local MPs to raise the issue in the House of Commons.
By refusing to attend his sentencing, Thomas Cashman displayed just what a callous and despicable person he is, in direct contrast to the beautiful little girl he murdered and deprived of the rest of her life. His actions were an insult to Olivia’s memory and her family.
Victims and families show incredible strength, often reliving their experiences in open court, individuals like Cashman should be made to face up to the abhorrent crimes they have committed.
I will continue to lobby Government for a law change that will save future families from enduring this insult, whilst creating a lasting legacy for Olivia.’
For more information visit the Face the Family homepage here.