Parents of babies targeted by Lucy Letby DEMAND sentencing law change
EXCLUSIVE: Parents of babies targeted by Lucy Letby brand her refusal to come to court a ‘slap in the face’ and DEMAND MPs change the law to stop ‘cowardly’ offenders ‘hiding’ when they are sentenced
- Letby, 33, is expected to refuse to appear in the dock for her sentencing
Parents of babies murdered by Lucy Letby tonight demanded a law change to stop ‘cowardly’ offenders from ‘hiding’ when they are sentenced.
The killer nurse, 33, is expected to refuse to appear in the dock when the judge imposes her punishment tomorrow.
It means Letby will also avoid listening to victim impact statements, prepared by the families of those she murdered and harmed, explaining how she devastated their lives. MPs and parents of the infants tonight demanded new legislation be fast-tracked to force serious offenders to ‘face the music’.
One father, whose twin boys Letby tried to murder, told the Mail her refusal to appear at Manchester Crown Court was a ‘slap in the face’ for her victims.
‘I’m so angry that Letby is refusing to come to court to hear her sentence,’ he said. ‘She is a coward and we feel cheated that she will not be present to hear exactly how her terrible actions have affected our boys and our lives.
Children’s nurse Lucy Letby (pictured in a custody photo) went on a year-long killing spree while working at the Countess of Chester Hospital
Letby cries as she listens to the first guilty verdicts being read out by the foreman of the jury at Manchester Crown Court
An artist’s sketch of empty chairs inside the court after Letby refused to go into the dock to hear the further verdicts against her
Letby’s parents, Susan and John, arrive at Manchester Crown Court on August 18. The couple supported her every day in court. A source told the Mail that Letby’s mother was distraught when her daughter was arrested – wailing and crying, even telling police: ‘I did it, take me instead,’ in a desperate bid to protect her
Letby – who grew up with two loving parents – is pictured as a young girl
Letby was convicted of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six more at the Countess of Chester Hospital, in Cheshire (pictured)
‘What gives her the right to refuse to come up from the cells or to tell the judge that she doesn’t intend to listen to his sentence? The law must change. The judge should be given the power to summon her into the dock to face myself, my wife and all the other victims who desperately want her to hear our victim impact statements.
‘It is a total injustice and slap in the face for us all. The British justice system needs to change, to ensure that, in the future, all victims’ voices are heard by those that perpetrate such horrendous crimes.’
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On Friday, Letby was convicted of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six more at the Countess of Chester Hospital, in Cheshire. By then, she was already refusing to enter the dock and her barrister, Ben Myers KC, indicated to the judge, Mr Justice Goss, that his client would not be appearing before him for sentencing.
The judge is likely to impose a whole life tariff, meaning Letby will never be freed. She is likely to become only the fourth woman in British legal history to be given such a punishment.
The Government is expected to include changes to legislation requiring offenders to be present in court for sentencing in the King’s Speech in November. The proposals will compel offenders to attend or impose an increased jail sentence if they refuse by making ‘no shows’ a contempt of court. But this extra punishment would have little effect on the most serious criminals, such as Letby, who have no prospect of ever being freed.
Tory former justice secretary Robert Buckland said there should be ‘nowhere to hide’ for offenders such as Letby and suggested the sentencing be played into her cell, regardless of her wishes. He said changes could be made to the Victims Bill, which is going through Parliament, or emergency legislation drafted to get the changes into law quicker.
Sir Robert told GB News: ‘Sadly, the court’s hands are tied at the moment. My suggestion would be to make sure there was a live link beamed into the cell of the sound and/or send pictures to ensure that Letby has nowhere to hide and has to listen to what the judge is saying about the case.’
The twins’ father said: ‘I agree with the suggestion of having cameras in cells so video can be beamed in – Letby should have nowhere to hide.’ Letby’s refusal to appear comes after a series of high-profile cases where criminals have avoided coming to court to hear their fate, denying victims the satisfaction of seeing them sent down.
The judge is likely to impose a whole life tariff, meaning Letby will never be freed. She is likely to become only the fourth woman in British legal history to be given such a punishment
Tory former justice secretary Robert Buckland said there should be ‘nowhere to hide’ for offenders such as Letby and suggested the sentencing be played into her cell, regardless of her wishes
Letby – wearing a blue hoodie with the strings covered in pink glitter – is taken from her house in handcuffs after being arrested by Cheshire Police in July 2018
Letby steps into the police car – telling officers to be careful because she had just had knee surgery
Letby being quizzed in July 2018 by an officer about the rise in deaths on her watch. Letby replies: ‘They told me there had been a lot more deaths and I’d been linked as someone who had been there for a lot of them.’ Asked if she was concerned about the rise in mortality, Letby says – meekly – ‘yes’
They include Thomas Cashman, 34, who shot and killed nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel. His absence from court in April was described by Olivia’s mother, Cheryl, 46, as a ‘kick in the teeth’.
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By refusing to admit to her abhorrent crimes, Letby has already compounded the misery of her victims’ families by dragging them through a harrowing trial.
Her refusla to attend tomorrow’s sentencing now denies them some much-needed emotional succour.
For justice to be seen to be done, those families need to be able to look this contemptible woman in the eye as punishment is handed down.
Tamlin Bolton, of Switalskis Solicitors, who represents parents of several of Letby’s victims, said: ‘It really is the final insult. For Letby to refuse to face these parents speaks of cowardice and shows a complete disregard for the damage she has caused.’
Steve Brine, the Conservative chairman of the health select committee, added: ‘Lucy Letby 100 per cent should be present to face the music and Parliament should legislate to make sure that defendants do so.’
Tory former Cabinet minister David Jones told the Mail: ‘It will be devastating to the families of the murdered babies if Letby is not in the dock when sentence is passed. Nothing can ever heal their pain, but it will not be true justice if she is not made to face the consequences of her actions in public. It must never happen again in this country, either. The law can’t be changed quickly enough.’
Whole-life sentences are reserved for multiple killings, cases involving terrorism, abduction, sexual abuse, pre-planning, the murder of an on-duty police or prison officer, or if the defendant has already been convicted of a murder. The only other women to receive the sentence are Moors murderer Myra Hindley – who died in 2002 – serial killer Rose West and Joanna Dennehy, who stabbed three men to death.
Lord Falconer, former Lord Chancellor, said: ‘Refusing to attend the sentencing should be an aggravating factor judges can take into account in increasing the sentence. In this case, the appropriate sentence is likely to be so heavy that such a power will make little or no difference.
‘All the judge can do is acknowledge and condemn this final cruelty by Letby. For the families of her victims, there is no escape, no ability to avoid the worst by being absent from the difficult times. It is with them for ever.’
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