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Daily Record
Daily Record
Adam Everett & John-Paul Clark

Olivia Pratt-Korbel's murderer tried to intimidate accomplice after her death

A man told cops investigating the murder of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel's that he was "terrified" of child-killer Thomas Cashman and described how he was given one last message.

Paul Russell, 41, was jailed for 22 months last week after admitting assisting an offender, said Cashman had a "reputation" and that "people were scared of him" during an interview in custody, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Mr Russell disposed of the gunman's clothing and drove him back to his van after Olivia was fatally wounded in the shooting on Kingsheath Avenue in Dovecot on August 22, 2022.

Henry Riding, prosecuting, read extracts to Liverpool Crown Court from chats Mr Russell had with police officers after being detained on August 28, 2022 sentencing last week.

He described the moment that he received a phone call from his girlfriend saying that the killer was at her house, saying: "When she phoned me, my heart. My world just fell apart. I don't like him anyway."

Speaking of arriving back at his house and seeing Cashman, Russell said: "I didn't wanna see him to be fair. Devastated." He continued by saying that he had known him "for years", but added: "We're not like friends or nothing like that. Why's he trust me? I'm not his mate or nothing."

Mr Russell said he just wanted to get him out of the house: "I'm not sure if he said 'can I do a joint?'. I'm not sure. See look, I just wanted him out me house. That was it.

"That was my main objective, I didn't want him in. I didn't wanna drop him off, didn't want to. I was thinking of something in that split second what I could say something not to drop him off, but there was nothing for me to say. But me missus wanted him gone fast."

The murdered had let himself into the house via an open back door while Mr Russell's partner was asleep. He continued: "If I could turn the back the clock now, I'd have locked the door. He was there for five or 10 minutes while I was there and was gone."

He admitted being scared of drug dealer Cashman: "He's got a reputation obviously, hasn't he? People are scared of him." Mr Russell confessed to being "really scared", adding: "Look. I'm terrified of him."

Olivia Pratt-Korbel, 9, was killed at her home. (Supplied)

He says Cashman came back days later with a warning, describing him as "pulling up and saying 'don't say nothing'", stating: "He was whispering summat to me again. Again, I couldn't really make it out. He's saying 'don't say nothing'. It was proper low."

Cashman's trial at Manchester Crown Square Crown Court was told that he had "garden hopped" to the property in the immediate aftermath of Olivia's murder. The woman cannot be named for legal reasons, but told the court she was woken by the killer at her bedside.

Mr Russell came home after his partner had called him, and Cashman was said to have told him at the doorstep "I've done Joey". This was an apparent reference to Joseph Nee, the intended target of the attack.

He meanwhile said to Cashman: "Lad, don’t wanna hear it, don’t tell me nothing". Mr Russell then drove Cashman to Aspes Road, where he had parked his Citroen Berlingo van.

Cashman left the dark clothing he had been wearing in the kitchen next to the washing machine. Mr Russell later took them round to a man Craig Byrne's home, as he walked his dog late that night.

Cashman was given a pair of his co-defendant's Under Armour tracksuit bottoms during his pitstop at the woman's home. These were discovered at his sister's home, and were found to contain his DNA and two particles of gun powder residue.

Cashman was also given a black and grey Under Armour t-shirt, which was also subsequently located in the box. A speck of his blood was found on the garment.

Cashman had allegedly told the woman upon his arrival at the address that he "didn't know where else to go" and "trusted" her. They had previously had a secret sexual relationship but he accused her of trying to "ruin" him and described her as a "woman scorned" after he apparently refused to leave his long-term partner.

The murderer also claimed that Russell owed him a £25,000 drug debt and suggested that she had been motivated to frame him for the £200,000 Crimestoppers reward money. Cashman said that he had received the incriminating clothing at an earlier date, following a sexual encounter with the woman.

This came after she had been one of the first people on the scene of another shooting, in which a man was injured. During a three-and-a-half-week trial the jury heard how the child-killer "lay in wait" for Nee while armed with two loaded guns as his intended target watched a football match at his friend's house.

When he left the property with another man, Paul Abraham, the gunman approached them from behind and opened fire three times. Mr Nee was shot in the midriff and fell to the floor as a result of his injuries.

David McLachlan KC, prosecuting, described how Cashman attempted to discharge the firearm again as Mr Nee begged: "Please don't, don't lad."

But the gun jammed, and Mr Nee escaped. Cashman however continued his "ruthless pursuit" as Mr Nee fled towards the Korbel family home. At the property, Olivia's mum Cheryl Korbel tried to stop Mr Nee from getting inside, but the assailant fired another shot with a second gun.

The bullet passed through the mother's hand before striking Olivia in the chest. She had been upstairs in bed but ran to the bottom of the stairs after being startled by the sound of gunfire.

With Mr Nee by now inside, Cashman then forced his arm around the door and fired one final shot which became lodged in the doorframe. Olivia was rushed to hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly before 11.30pm.

Mr Nee was then bundled into a car by his associates and taken hospital to get his injuries treated. Cashman had been observed on CCTV making a number of trips past the street on the day in question.

However, he claimed that he had no involvement in the shooting and was at Mr Byrne's house counting £10,000. Cashman admitted being a "high level" drug dealer who made up to £5,000 per week selling cannabis, and claimed he was in the area that day due to his involvement in the supply of the class B substance.

He stated he had "no problems" with Mr Nee's family and counted them as friends. He said on the witness box: "I'm not a killer, I'm a dad."

However, Cashman was found unanimously guilty of murder Olivia, attempting to murder Nee, wounding with intent against Cheryl Korbel and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 42 years last month.

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