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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Eleanor Barlow and Pat Hurst

‘Ecstatic’ mum’s tears after drug dealer found guilty of gun murder of Olivia (9)

Cheryl Korbel, mother of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel outside Manchester Crown Court after Thomas Cashman was found guilty of murdering her daughter. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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 last August 22.

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.

Ms Korbel said she was “ecstatic” as she left court following the conclusion of the trial.

There were gasps and tears from Olivia’s family, including her mother, who wore a pink cardigan and clutched a teddy, as the verdicts were returned.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel

Cashman wiped away tears in the dock and turned to his family in the public gallery behind, shaking his head.

One of his relatives could be heard saying “appeal it” and they left the courtroom shouting and swearing.

His sister claimed others were responsible for Olivia’s murder, not her brother, as she was ushered out of the court building by police officers and security guards.

The jury of 10 men and two women took nine hours and three minutes to reach their verdicts.

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 that killed Olivia was fired through the front door, hitting Ms Korbel in the hand before striking the child 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, the one that killed Olivia and another that became lodged in the door. 

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 that he had been at a friend’s house where he counted £10,000 (€11,360) 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.

handout photo issued by Merseyside Police of Thomas Cashman, 34, who has been found guilty of murdering nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel and injuring her mother, Cheryl Korbel, 46, at their family home in Dovecot, Liverpool, on August 22 last year. Issue date: Thursday March 30, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story COURTS KnottyAsh. Photo credit should read: Merseyside Police/PA Wire

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

“When he found out 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 he was a dad himself,” he said.

“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.”

Cashman is expected to be sentenced on Monday.

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