It has been announced that convicted killers and rapists will no longer be able to skip their sentencing hearings under the new Olivia’s Law.
It comes after a string of recent high profile cases saw criminals avoid their sentencing hearings in court rooms, as they were legally allowed to do so – something many people in the UK were unaware of.
Calls for this to change came from many people who were outraged and family members of victims who saw the killers of their loved ones skip the hearings, causing more pain.
Partly in thanks to the mother of nine-year-old murder victim Olivia Pratt-Korbel – who has successfully campaigned for ‘Olivia’s Law’ – that is about to change.
Cheryl Korbel campaigned for the new law after her daughter’s killer Thomas Cashman chose to remain in his prison cell instead of attending court.
Olivia’s Law, contained within the Criminal Justice Bill which was announced in the King’s Speech, will allow judges to compel defendants to be present for sentencing.
Ms Korbel previously said Cashman’s absence felt like a ‘kick in the teeth’.
Speaking to ITV News, Olivia’s aunt, Antonia Elverson, said the family felt ‘proud’ when they heard King Charles mention the law in his speech, at the state opening of Parliament.
However, she went on to add that they don’t think the proposal is strict enough for offenders.
Ms Elverson said: “Twenty-four months sounds a long time. But if you’re looking at a really lengthy sentence, of 25 plus years, two years is neither here nor there.
“That’s what they’re suggesting, and that’s what they’re going to be putting forward.
“Obviously, we have no choice but to agree with that at the moment. Whether or not that’s something that we look at campaigning against if it’s not a deterrent, I don’t know.”
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Olivia’s mum Ms Korbel said: “It is a very important step forward. It will bring a little bit of comfort knowing that no other family will go through what we’ve been through.
“I really did want to address him – for the pain that he’s put us through, that we’re still going through.
“And to have the audacity to be there for the whole month and then not to turn up on the day of the sentence. It’s disrespectful to the family and to the judge, not to hear the sentence being passed.”
Other killers who have avoided their sentencing in recent hearings include ex-nurse Lucy Letby who was convicted of murdering seven babies, Jordan McSweeney who murdered 35-year-old law graduate Zara Aleena, and Koci Selamaj who murdered primary school teacher Sabina Nessa.
Under Olivia’s Law, prison officers will be able to use ‘reasonable force’ to get defendants into the dock to hear their sentence, when instructed to do so by a judge.
Judges will also have the power to impose additional punishments, including an extra 24 months on the defendant’s prison sentence if they refuse to show up.
Under current law, judges can only order defendants to attend hearings prior to the verdict being delivered. If defendants refuse to obey, they can be found in contempt of court and face up to two years in prison.
But judges hold no such power over defendants for their sentencing.
Paul O’Grady posthumously named Person of the Year by Peta
‘Peta urges everyone to follow his example and honour his memory by speaking up whenever they see an animal in need’
The late TV star Paul O’Grady has been named Peta’s Person of the Year for his ‘lifelong determination to make the world a kinder place for animals’.
The animal rights organisation said ‘he never wavered in his commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us’.
O’Grady, who passed away in March this year aged 67, was a leading figure in a number of animal rights campaigns including Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which he was an ambassador for.
He rose to fame as a comedian best known for his drag persona Lily Savage. He went on to host light entertainment shows and became the host of For The Love of Dogs, which showcased life at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
The TV and radio star joined Peta in the 1990s to raise awareness about testing on animals, and urged the Lord Mayor of London to stop herding sheep across London Bridge in 2014.
He also raised awareness of the treatment of orcas kept in marine parks and joined a campaign to ban foie gras – a mousse or pate made from force-feeding ducks and geese.
Peta vice president Elisa Allen said: “Paul O’Grady once said that ‘it is our duty to treat animals with respect’, and he lived by his own principles every day by being a tireless animal advocate.
“Peta urges everyone to follow his example and honour his memory by speaking up whenever they see an animal in need.”
A statement from the Peta said: “Peta recognises and thanks Paul O’Grady for his lifelong determination to make the world a kinder place for animals.”
“He never wavered in his commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us. We will always treasure his legacy of compassion,” it added.
O’Grady’s husband Andre Portasio will be presented with the award on his behalf.
Manchester’s historic Portico Library awarded huge grant to secure its future
The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building
The Grade II-listed Portico Library will receive almost half a million pounds to transform the historic building.
The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building – a much-loved gem standing proudly on Mosley Street.
Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the £453,000 will see the treasured library undergo a huge revamp and preserve its book collection.
During its development, local communities in Manchester will be invited to help work on the project.
With particular focus on environmentally sustainable architectural plans, it aims to unite all three original floors of The Portico Library for the first time in 100 years.
The ground floor will be transformed into a ‘Northern bookshop’ which will hold educational activities, with areas for dining, exhibitions areas and meeting spaces.
While the upper floors will showcase the library’s incredible book collection and archives, which includes the first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
John Carpenter, Chair of the Portico Library, said: “The news that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting The Portico Library’s bold scheme to open up and share its extraordinary heritage and collection, to Manchester residents and visitors, is a major cultural signal to Manchester, the North and the UK.”
He added: “This visionary project, years in the making, fulfils our mission of working with the many people in Manchester to explore, share and celebrate their diverse stories and the city’s literary and global heritage.
“Embracing creativity, collaboration and inclusivity, the project will unlock the Library’s past to plan for the future. We would like to thank the National Lottery players who have made it possible to realise our vision.”
Handwritten note with ‘plan to kill’ Brianna Ghey found in accused girl’s room
The note was found during a police search
A handwritten note with alleged details of a ‘plan to kill’ transgender teenager Brianna Ghey was found by police in the bedroom of Girl X.
The crumpled paper note (pictured) was discovered by officers during a search conducted at the accused’s home in March, more than a month after the tragic death of the 16-year-old.
Brianna was found after being stabbed 28 times in Culcheth Linear Park, Warrington, earlier this year.
The teenager was discovered by dog walkers just after 3pm on Saturday, February 11th.
Girl X from Warrington and Boy Y from Leigh both deny murder. During the trial, jurors at Manchester Crown Court heard how Girl X sent a picture of the handwritten note to Boy Y on February 3rd.
The note began with the header: “Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey.”
It continued: “Meet Boy Y at wooden posts 1pm. Walk down to library…bus stop. Wait until Brianna gets off bus then the 3 of us walk to Linear Park.
“Go to the pipe/tunnel area. I say code word to Boy Y. He stabs her in the back as I stab her in the stomach. Boy Y drags the body into the area. We both cover up the area with logs etc.”
In her opening speech, prosecutor Deanna Heer KC told the jury: “It is clearly, the prosecution say, a plan to kill Brianna Ghey.” During the same search on March 17th, officers found a note found in a drawer headlined ‘plan’.
Details in the note continued: “Give them alcohol with sleeping pills.
“Slit throat. I kill her. Dismember body. Place pieces in bin bags, bury bags 7ft underground, bones including.
“Get her to go to Linear park, go to the hidden spot near the bridge I usually go to. Someone jumps out and restrains her (plan B). I kill her.”
During the search, police also found a computer tablet and a black notebook.
Jurors heard that written in the notebook was the word ‘anarchy’ on one page, and on another there was a list of ‘what is right and wrong’. Another page had a ‘spider diagram’ with ‘good and ‘evil’ in the middle.
The ‘legs’ of the diagram lead to the words ‘forgiveness, justice, morality, good, suffering, evil, sin and free will’, the court heard.
On another page there were the words ‘Valentine’s gifts’ and on another the words ‘revision HW’. Prosecutor Cheryl Mottram said: “Homework, perhaps.”
Written on another page were the words ‘types of serial killers’, with a list under the heading.
Words underneath included ‘organised and disorganised’, ‘mass murder’, ‘psychotic’, ‘organised crime’ and ‘copy cat’. On another page were the words ‘films’, and ‘faves’.
Another page was headed with ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ and then a ‘list of characteristics’. There were also notes about ‘John Wayne Gacy’, the ‘killer clown’.
The notebook also had written inside it a note which read ‘potential threats’ and ‘people that need to go’.
Another page had Boy Y’s name on it followed by a ‘list of qualities or attributes’. Underneath was written the words ‘trustworthy, funny, sociopath, good sense of humour, very very smart, genius level and not sociable’.
Officers also recovered a black purse inside a ‘cubby hole’ with a handwritten note inside.
The note read: “Friday 11th November, attitudes to forgiveness.” Jurors were told the note contained two names, including Gee Walker.
“Forgives her son Anthony’s killer,” it read. And continued: “Julie Nicholson, who could not forgive the terrorists who killed her daughter Jenny.”
Three handwritten notes were also found on the floor of the room. One read ‘serial killer facts’, with a ‘list of facts relating to serial killers’ including ‘killing themselves in police custody can be a final act of control’, ‘hedonism’ and ‘power and control orientated’.
Other notes made were ‘cruelty to animals’, ‘bed wetting past age of five’, ‘USA has the most serial killers’, ‘lack of empathy for others’ and ‘can be superficially charming’.
One note read ‘Dr Harold Frederick Shipman, aka Dr Death’, followed by the words ‘classification, serial killer’.
And jurors were told there was also a note in relation to ‘Richard Ramirez, or the ‘Night Stalker’.
The trial, which began on November 27th at Manchester Crown Court, continues.