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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Eleanor Barlow

Killer of Olivia Pratt-Korbel shielded from her family at trial, mother says

PA Media

A drug dealer who killed a nine-year-old girl was shielded from her family in the dock during his trial because they were “intimidating”, her mother has said.

Thomas Cashman, 34, was jailed for a minimum of 42 years for the murder of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, who was shot in Dovecot, Liverpool, after Cashman chased another man into her home.

Olivia’s mother, Cheryl Korbel, has been campaigning for a change in the law to compel defendants to attend their sentencing hearings after Cashman failed to appear in court as he was jailed for life.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Ms Korbel, who was also injured during Cashman’s attack, said the sentencing hearing was the opportunity for Olivia’s family to have a “voice” and read statements describing the impact of what had happened.

She said of her daughter’s killer: “He’s a coward.

“Right through the trial, even when he was in the dock, there was a blind down constantly.

“He couldn’t see me or any of the family.

“Apparently, we got told, that we were intimidating.

“I wanted to address him. I think that’s why he never came up, because he would have been able to see me.”

She added: “I wanted him to understand the pain that he’s caused, the pain that we went through and the pain we are still going through.”

Ms Korbel appeared on the programme with relatives Kim Alcock and Antonia Elverson, all wearing jumpers decorated with Olivia’s photograph.

Ms Alcock said: “We do not want another family to go through what we did.

“It feels a little like we haven’t got full closure because he hasn’t heard how he’s impacted our whole family, taking our baby away from us.

“It might not have been intentional but he’s done it and we now need the law changed for no-one else to go through this, for other families to get that closure that we didn’t get.”

Last month, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the Government was committed to bringing forward legislation to enable offenders to be compelled to attend their sentencing hearings.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also said the commitment, made by Mr Chalk’s predecessor Dominic Raab, remains “in place”, but has not said whether the legislation will be introduced before the next general election, expected in 2024.

The killers of Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa were also sentenced in their absence after they refused to attend sentencing hearings.

Sex attacker Jordan McSweeney murdered 35-year-old law graduate Ms Aleena as she walked home in Ilford, east London, and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 38 years.

Koci Selamaj received life with at least 36 years for murdering primary school teacher Ms Nessa after travelling to London to carry out an attack on a random woman.

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