Sabina Nessa’s sister says that she is pleased by plans to give judges the power to order serious offenders to attend sentencing hearings.

Speaking to the Mirror, Sabina Nessa’s sister Jebina Islam, 31, said she was “delighted” by the proposed change.

Ms Nessa was murdered in 2021 by Koci Selamaj as she walked through a park in South East London. He refused to appear in court for his sentence of life in prison.

“It’s about time,” Ms Islam said. “We’ve seen from my sister’s case that there has been a pattern that these animals are not coming to court and now we have put a stop to this.

“I hope this will bring some sort of comfort to victims and their families that these animals will be made to come to court whether they like it or not.”

Cheryl Korbel has also been among those campaigning for a change in the law to force criminals to appear in court after Thomas Cashman, who shot Olivia after chasing a fellow drug dealer into her home in Dovecot, Liverpool, refused to come up to the dock when he was sentenced to a minimum of 42 years.

The promised reforms will give custody officers the power to use “reasonable force” to ensure those awaiting sentencing appear in the dock or by video link.

Those convicted could also face an extra two years in jail if they ignore a judge’s order and continue to refuse to attend court, with such penalties applying in cases where the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

It comes after child murderer Lucy Letby refused to appear for her sentencing earlier this month.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “It is unacceptable that some of the country’s most horrendous criminals have refused to face their victims in court. They cannot and should not be allowed to take the coward’s way out.

But the father of a murdered police officer warned against a “knee-jerk, headline-grabbing” response.

Former prison officer Bryn Hughes’ daughter Pc Nicola Hughes was killed in 2012 alongside fellow Pc Fiona Bone in a gun and grenade ambush while on duty in Tameside, Greater Manchester.

“I have seen it from both sides of the courtroom. On being the father of someone who was murdered and being in court, and a former prison officer who has actually restrained someone into court, it is difficult,” he told the PA news agency.

He said he had seen the behaviour of prisoners forced into courtrooms: “Foul abuse towards the family, abused the court, turned their back, kicked off, fought, spat, bitten people.

Mr Hughes warned it was often very difficult to force people up the often narrow steps from the cells into courtrooms.