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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jonathan Humphries & Paul Britton & Adam Everett

"So what?": Fury of Olivia Pratt-Korbel's family amid plea for suspended sentence from man who helped her murderer

The family of murdered nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel reacted with fury today as the legal representative of a man who helped killer Thomas Cashman in the aftermath of her death suggested a prison sentence could be suspended.

Ryan Korbel, the youngster's brother, walked out of the public gallery at a court as Paul Russell's mitigation was outlined. And John Pratt, Olivia's dad, said 'so what?' as Liverpool Crown Court heard Russell, who helped Cashman dispose of evidence, was finding his time in prison 'isolating'.

Russell, 41, gave Cashman a lift from a woman's home, where the ruthless gunman had fled to after shooting Olivia dead on Kingsheath Avenue, Dovecot, Liverpool on August 22 last year.

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He also returned and collected a bag of clothing Cashman, 34, had worn during the shooting, which he then passed to another accomplice who has not been identified, reports The Echo.

Cashman was last month convicted of lying in wait for rival drug dealer, Joseph Nee, in the street armed with two guns. He shot Nee three times but when his Glock 9mm pistol 'malfunctioned', he chased Nee down the road and towards the home of Olivia's mum, Cheryl Korbel, who had stepped outside to see what was going on.

Jailed: Paul Russell (Facebook)

As the screaming Ms Korbel tried to keep Nee out, Cashman blindly fired a shot from his second weapon, a revolver, through the front door. The bullet struck Cheryl in the arm, and then hit Olivia in the chest. Cashman was jailed for life earlier this month with a minimum of 42 years in prison.

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, the heard on Wednesday.

He 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.

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.

Thomas Cashman (PA)

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."

The court today heard that Russell was 'not aware of the true horror' of what Cashman had done when he agreed to help him. Tom Schofield, defending, told the court: "“His involvement in the events of August 22, however substantial or peripheral, will be a source of shame until the day he dies. He will never live them down."

Mr Schofield told the court that Russell had been threatened in prison and had been moved to an unidentified facility under an "assumed identity". He had also been handed a threat to life notice by police, known as an Osman Warning, after he was charged.

Mr Schofield highlighted how Russell gave Cashman's name to police and had been 'terrified of him'.

But as he told the court that a sentence of under two years could be suspended, Olivia's brother, Mr Korbel, walked out.

Russell was jailed for 22 months.

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