Zara Aleena murder: Raab seeks to force convicts to appear at sentencingon February 23, 2023 at 5:00 pm

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It comes after Zara Aleena’s family tell of the pain caused by her murderer not being in court.

Zara AleenaImage source, Metropolitan Police

Convicted criminals could be forced to appear in court for sentencing, the justice secretary has told Zara Aleena’s family.

Dominic Raab is examining whether judges should be able to impose longer terms on those who refuse to appear.

Ms Aleena’s killer Jordan McSweeney refused to attend his sentencing, something her family described as “a slap in the face”.

It is understood the plans are at an early stage.

Mr Raab revealed his plans during a meeting with Ms Aleena’s aunt, Farah Naz.

After meeting, Ms Naz told the BBC it had been “a slap in the face” that McSweeney had the right not to attend the hearing.

“He needed to look at our faces and see how he hadn’t just killed Zara, he had killed a whole family,” she said.

Ms Aleena, 35, was killed in an attack near her home in Ilford, east London, in June last year.

McSweeney, who was jailed for 38 years for her murder, was condemned as “spineless” by Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb for failing to appear in court.

Convicted criminals in other serious cases have also refused to appear. It means they do not hear victim personal statements which are read out in court before sentencing.

Mr Raab is in discussion with officials about how to bring in the changes.

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