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Man found guilty of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel

1 year ago

Man found guilty of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia Pratt-Korbel (Family handout/PA)

A man has been found guilty of fatally shooting nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel as he chased a convicted drug dealer into her home in Liverpool.

Thomas Cashman, 34, admitted being a “high-level” cannabis dealer but denied being the gunman in the incident, which also injured Olivia’s mother Cheryl Korbel, 46, and Joseph Nee, the intended target, in Dovecot on August 22 last year.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court found him guilty of the murder of Olivia, the attempted murder of Nee, wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Ms Korbel, and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

During the trial, which lasted more than three weeks, the jury heard the schoolgirl ran downstairs after hearing shots outside, saying “I’m scared mummy, I’m scared”.

The bullet which killed Olivia was fired through the front door, hitting Ms Korbel in the hand before striking the schoolgirl in the chest.

Nee, a 36-year-old with a number of previous convictions, was injured before he ran towards the house after three shots were fired from a self-loading pistol in the street on Kingsheath Avenue.

The gunman fired a further two shots from a revolver into the Korbel family home, one which killed Olivia and the other which became lodged in the door.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia

He then fled the scene, running across back gardens.

The court heard Nee and his family “had their enemies” and it was not the first time he had been targeted in a shooting.

Cashman, a father-of-two, said around the time of the shooting he had been at a friend’s house where he counted £10,000 in cash and smoked a spliff.

During his evidence, he told the court: “I’m not a killer, I’m a dad.”

But a woman who had a fling with Cashman told the jury he came to her house after the shooting, where he changed his clothes and she heard him say he had “done Joey”.

Cashman told the court she was a “woman scorned” and accused her of lying because she wanted to “ruin” his life.

Detective Superintendent Mark Baker, the senior investigating officer in the case, said Cashman’s actions were “abhorrent”.

He said: “When he found out that he had shot an innocent young girl, he should have had the courage to stand up and come forward.

“Instead, he chose to lie low despite the fact that he was a dad himself.

“He is not worthy of walking the streets of Merseyside, and neither are those who think they can bring fear or intimidation to our communities through use of firearms.”

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Mark Baker said: “The result today will never bring Olivia back and I know that this will live with her family for the rest of their lives.

“I would like to thank the families of Olivia’s mum, Cheryl Korbel and dad, John Pratt for the dignity that they have demonstrated throughout the trial.

“Reliving the fatal events of that night last August will have surely been unbearable for all of them, particularly for Cheryl, who herself was injured during the shooting, and Olivia’s brother and sister, Ryan and Chloe, who were in the house at the time and witnessed the traumatic aftermath of Cashman’s vile actions.

“The key witness in this case has demonstrated incredible bravery. She has stood up for what is right… justice. Her evidence was powerful and emotional and most importantly she spoke the truth. She should be proud of herself knowing that her testimony has helped to bring the killer of a nine-year-old child to justice and I hope her courage encourages people to do the right thing in future investigations.

“I sincerely hope that today’s verdict will deter others from using guns on our streets. Olivia’s death should not be in vain. In 2007 the murder of Rhys Jones should have been that defining moment for those who were prepared to use guns on our streets. These people are toxic in our community, and we need to stand firmly together to root them out and put them behind bars. We don’t want other families to suffer in the way that Olivia and Rhys’ families have.

“In his police interviews Cashman showed no remorse for his actions. He has deprived a nine-year-old girl of her future, and her family of the pride they would have had in watching her grow up.

“When he found out that he had shot an innocent young girl, he should have had the courage to stand up and come forward. Instead, he chose to lay low, despite being a dad himself.

“He is not worthy of walking the streets of Merseyside, and neither are those who think they can bring fear, or intimidation, to our communities through the use of firearms.

“The investigation has been a relentless pursuit of the truth. I want to take this opportunity to thank the investigation team who have worked relentlessly to find the person responsible and find justice for Olivia and her family. I would also like to thank Senior Crown Prosecutor Maria Corr for her unwavering support since the beginning of the investigation together with prosecuting counsel David McLachlan KC and Henry Riding.

“I also want to provide reassurance that Merseyside Police and our partners will continue to target those involved in drug and gun crime and we will continue to work with our partners to help strengthen our local communities to live without the fear of violence and intimidation on their streets.

“This work will run alongside the Clear, Hold, Build work we are undertaking with our partners in the area to prevent crime and build a stronger community, which doesn’t have to live in fear. If anyone has information of those involved in drug crime, or serious organised crime, I encourage them to come forward either directly to Merseyside Police or anonymously to Crimestoppers. We will act on all information.”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s family and loved ones have been through in the past seven months.

“There is no justice that can bring Olivia back and the last three weeks of the trial and Cashman’s refusal to admit his crimes must only have compounded their unthinkable suffering.

“Today’s guilty verdict will not bring their unique, chatty, beautiful little girl back and sadly it will not end their heartache, but at least they know he is off the streets and facing a life sentence for his cowardly and despicable actions.

“I would like to pay tribute to the hard-working officers and staff of Merseyside Police for their relentless determination to bring him to justice so swiftly.

“From the moment this horrific incident took place, they have been unwavering in their commitment to ensure he is made to pay for his actions.

“I’d also like to thank the community of Dovecot who have shown courage and empathy and have pulled together at this very dark time for our city.

“There is no place for firearms in our region. Every time one is brandished or used, it brings fear, misery, and anguish.

“This senseless murder devastated our city. Sadly, it showed there is still a contemptible minority, an underbelly of our society, who have no morals and no care for anyone but themselves and their own greed.

“It is vital that we unite to make it clear they will never be welcome in our proud, caring, compassionate region. 

“Merseyside Police are recognised across the country for their relentless approach to tackling and disrupting these heartless individuals and the criminal gangs who harbour them. I am committed to supporting that work and ensuring they have the resources they need to bring perpetrators to justice and protect people across Merseyside. 

“But we always need the support of our communities. If you have any information about gun crime – where weapons are being housed or who is using them – my heartfelt plea is please, do the right thing and speak out.

“By coming forward with the information you have, you can play a vital role in protecting the lives of innocent people and preventing further tragedies.

“By working together, we can stop those intent on violence and harm and make all our communities stronger and safer.

If you have any information, please call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, no-one will know that you have made that call.

“If you have been affected by this case and want to speak to someone or access support, you can contact my Victim Care Merseyside service on 0808 175 3080 or visitwww.victimcaremerseyside.org.”

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