Thomas Cashman trial: what jury has heard in Olivia Pratt-Korbel case

Alleged gunman’s ex-lover takes the stand after nine-year-old fatally shot last August

The funeral of Olivia Pratt-Korbel took place at St Margaret Mary's Church, Liverpool, on 15 September 2022
The funeral of Olivia Pratt-Korbel at St Margaret Mary's Church, Liverpool, in September
(Image credit: Richard Martin-Roberts/Getty Images)

The former lover of the man accused of being the masked gunman who killed nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel knew “he’d done something wrong” when he appeared at her house shortly after the shooting, a jury has heard.

Thomas Cashman is on trial for allegedly murdering Pratt-Korbel and injuring her mother, Cheryl Korbel, at their home in Dovecot, Liverpool, on 22 August 2022. He has denied all the charges against him.

What has the jury heard so far?

Nine-year-old Olivia was shot as her mother tried to prevent a stranger, convicted burglar Joseph Nee, from “taking refuge” in their home as he fled a gunman, The Guardian’s north of England correspondent Robyn Vinter reported. The masked man – alleged to be 34-year-old Cashman – fired several shots into the house before running away.

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Olivia’s older brother, Ryan Korbel, has said that he “knew it was over” when she did not respond to CPR after being hit in the chest by a bullet that had gone through their mother’s hand.

“It all happened so fucking fast,” said Korbel in a police interview the day after the attack, which was shown to the jury at Manchester Crown Court. “To me, he took his opportunity, all you could see was an arm and a gun. Bang. It just slid back out the door.”

Olivia was declared dead shortly after being taken to Alder Hey Children's Hospital. The killing was the third shooting death in Liverpool in a week.

Nee was also injured during the attack.

Opening the case last week, prosecutor David McLachlan KC told the court that Cashman had been tracking Nee on the day of the shooting as part of “a pre-planned and ruthless attempt” to kill him.

Separate CCTV footage seen by the jury showed the street outside Olivia’s home during what McLachlan described as the attempted “execution”.

Nee was seen walking down the street with a friend when the gunman ran up behind them and opened fire. Nee was struck in the midriff and fell to the ground, but managed to scamble to his feet after the gunman’s weapon appeared to “malfunction”. Nee then ran towards the Korbel family home a few doors away, where he barged through the partially open door, followed by his attacker, who had a second firearm.

The gunman fired two shots with the revolver, one of which killed Olivia.

Nee was treated in hospital before being arrested days later and recalled to prison for breaching the terms of his release.

What did Cashman’s ex-lover say?

Cashman’s former lover, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is “a key prosecution witness”, said The Times. She told the court that Cashman had come to her house immediately after the shooting and that she had heard him say he had “done Joey”.

He also asked for a change of clothes before leaving a few hours later with another man, she claimed.

As the trial entered a second week, Sky News reported that the witness “became involved in heated exchanges” with the lawyer defending Cashman. John Cooper KC suggested that the woman had lied to police after Cashman used her for sex.

The woman denied that she had been “jealous” after finding out that Cashman had also been sleeping with another woman apart from herself and his partner, Kayleeanne Sweeney.

But the witness admitted telling a friend that she wanted to expose Cashman for “what a rat he was” and to “ruin him like he has done me”. On the day before the shooting, she also told the friend that she thought she might be pregnant with Cashman’s child.

What next?

Jurors have also been shown forensic evidence that the prosecution say proves the masked gunman was Cashman. Jogging bottoms recovered from the home of his sister, Coleen Cashman, contained both his DNA and two particles of gunshot residue on the right leg matching the same type found at the Korbel family home, the court heard.

Cashman denies the charges of murder, the attempted murder of Joseph Nee, the wounding with intent and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. The trial is expected to last for four weeks.

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