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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Wesley Holmes

What it means when police issue an Osman Warning

What if your life was at risk - but police did not have enough evidence to justify an arrest?

You might be issued an Osman Warning - a threat to life warning issued when police have enough information to be aware of the risk of danger, but not enough evidence to arrest the potential killer.

Some 57 people in Merseyside were warned of possible murder plots against them in 2019, jumping from just 18 the year before.

READ MORE: How Paul Russell faced up to his crimes and did the right thing in the end

When nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel was shot by drug dealer Thomas Cashman on August 22 last year, his accomplice, Paul Russell, was warned there could be a price on his head.

The 41-year-old, of Snowberry Road in West Derby, disposed of clothing worn by the child killer and drove him back to his van on the night of the murder. But he later came forward with information about Cashman, and spent a month in witness protection as the prosecution built its case against him.

Russell was sentenced to 22 months for the part he played in helping cover up the murder, and now resides in an undisclosed prison under a false name after being issued an Osman Warning due to a number of serious threats. His parents were also forced to flee Merseyside in fear of retribution.

At his sentencing, Justice Yip said: "You now face an uncertain future. Upon your release you will not be allowed to return to Merseyside and lose contact with family and friends."

A total of 2,941 Osman Warnings were issued by police between 2018 and November 2022, according to data provided by 12 UK forces. This included 765 warnings handed out in 2021.

The term Osman Warning came about in 1998, when the widow of murder victim Ali Osman claimed authorities had not done enough to act on clear warning signs that the family was at risk after schoolteacher Paul Paget-Lewis developed a twisted obsession with the couple's teenage son.

Mulkiye Osman and son Ahmet argued that the police had information which should have made it clear that Padget-Lewis was danger after they were subjected to a campaign of intimidation which culminated in the schoolteacher shooting Ali at his Hackney home in March 1988.

The English courts ruled that the police owed no duty of care to Mulkiye and Ahmet, but the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this was a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


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