Killed son's legal legacy

A NEW law is to be introduced in memory of a two-year-old boy killed by his Sheffield dad - after his heartbroken relatives had to wait 18 months before they could hold his funeral.

Ryan's Law - part of the Coroners Death Certification Bill - is expected become an Act of Parliament this year after being mentioned in the Queen's Speech in December.

It limits the length of time to 40 days that a body can be held, after Ryan Franklin's mum Cathy was forced to endure an 18-month wait before she could lay her tiny son to rest.

The toddler's dad Lee Khair, who was convicted of manslaughter, had objected to the body being released until the end of his trial in case any extra tests were needed to help his defence case.

Khair, aged 27, formerly of Thornsett Road, Sharrow, was convicted of manslaughter in 2003 and jailed for seven years, but is already walking the streets after being released halfway through his sentence.

The former soldier, who had been in an on-off relationship with Ryan's mum, was looking after his son while she was on holiday when tragedy struck.

He claimed the toddler had fallen down a flight of stairs when he was found with a head injury and bruises all over his body, but jurors dismissed his version of events and found him guilty of killing the youngster.

They were told his injuries were not consistent with a fall and were in fact more likely to have been caused by being gripped, shaken and thrown onto a hard surface. Ryan's mum Cathy Franklin, now 33, who lives in Dorset, hopes the new legislation in memory of her son will prevent other families having to endure such a long wait to bury loved ones.

She said she is disgusted at Khair's behaviour towards their son - both on the night he killed the little boy and in the months that followed.

"He has always denied killing Ryan, but he was found covered in bruises, his brain was swollen, and there were clumps of his hair found on the kitchen floor - I dread to think what Ryan went through that day," she said.

"In death he was treated just as badly - his father denied us the right to bury him for 18 months until the end of his trial. This new law in memory of Ryan will prevent other families from having to go through the same thing."

Ms Franklin is also campaigning for convicted killers to be denied the right to parole - after Khair was released after just three years and six months of his sentence.

"He is a child killer yet he is walking the streets just halfway through his sentence - it is sickening," she said.

"He is free to move on with his life, to meet somebody else, and to have more children, yet our lives will never be the same.

"Regardless of the circumstances, if you are convicted of murder or manslaughter I am campaigning for a minimum 30-year sentence and no parole - why should these people be allowed to walk the streets among us when they have taken a life?"

She is organising a series of marches across the country next month to protest at "ludicrously lenient sentences" handed down by some judges.

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