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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Eleanor Barlow

Olivia Pratt-Korbel: Man who helped child killer Thomas Cashman to be given new identity

Family handout/Merseyside Police/PA

A man has been jailed for 22 months for helping convicted murderer Thomas Cashman after he fatally shot nine-year-old Olivia Pratt Korbel.

Paul Russell, who pleaded guilty to assisting an offender at a hearing in October last year, was “terrified” of Cashman and was not aware he had killed the schoolgirl when he helped him, Liverpool Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

He has been told he will be given a new identity and not allowed to return to Merseyside after his release.

The 41-year-old met police in the days after Olivia’s death and told them the man responsible was “Tommy Cashman”, the sentencing hearing was told.

His guilty plea could not be reported until after the trial of Cashman, who was found guilty of the schoolgirl’s murder last month.

Russell, of Snowberry Road, West Derby, Liverpool, admitted driving Cashman from an address in the aftermath of Olivia’s shooting, which happened at about 10pm on August 22 last year when the gunman chased convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee into the family home in Kingsheath Avenue, firing through the door and also injuring her mother, Cheryl Korbel.

Russell also disposed of a bag given to him by Cashman by taking it to another address.

The defendant, wearing a black suit and white shirt, appeared via videolink from a remote location for the hearing, which was attended by members of Olivia’s family.

Henry Riding, prosecuting, said: “Mr Russell not only admitted what he had done to assist Mr Cashman in the course of police interviews, he also named Mr Cashman in the course of the very first police interview.”

He said Russell had offered to give evidence against Cashman as a prosecution witness.

Cashman’s trial heard that the killer fled the scene of the shooting as Olivia lay fatally injured and went to the house of a woman he had been in a relationship with.

The woman, who has been given lifetime anonymity, told the court Cashman had changed his clothes and she heard him say he had “done Joey”.

Russell, who was also in a relationship with the woman, drove the killer from the address to Aspes Road, where he had earlier left his Citroen Berlingo van, and later took a bag containing his clothes to Snowberry Road, where friends of Cashman lived.

In police interviews, Russell said he did not like Cashman and just wanted to get him away from the woman’s house.

He told officers: “I’m terrified of him.”

The court heard at the time he was aware Cashman had been involved in a shooting but did not find out about Olivia’s death until the next morning.

He said he saw Cashman the following day and was warned: “Don’t say nothing.”

Olivia Pratt-Korbel was shot dead at her home in Dovecot, Liverpool (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

But, the court heard, that day Russell spoke to a trusted member of the community with a view to arranging to speak to police, who he made contact with the following day.

Tom Schofield, defending, said: “He doesn’t for a moment suggest he is blameless in this case and he recognises that it’s right he should be punished.”

He said moments after Russell was charged, last October, he was issued with a threat to life notice by police.

He had been remanded to a prison in Leeds but was transferred to another prison, under an assumed name, because of a threat to his safety.

Mr Schofield said Russell would be given a new identity and not allowed to return to Merseyside on his release.

He said: “The defendant, for what it’s worth to the court and to others listening, is the epitome of remorse for what he did.”

Cashman was jailed for life with a minimum of 42 years earlier this month.

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