'Big-time drug dealer' accused of shooting Olivia Pratt-Korbel, 9, is 'innocent of murder' witness says

24 March 2023, 16:32

Thomas Cashman is accused of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Thomas Cashman is accused of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel. Picture: Alamy/Handout

By Kit Heren

A 'big-time drug dealer' who is on trial charged with murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel is innocent, a witness has claimed.

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Thomas Cashman is accused of murdering the nine-year-old during a botched gangland shooting in Liverpool in August last year.

Cashman denies murdering her and injuring her mother after pursuing a convicted drug dealer into their home.

Nicky McHale told Manchester Crown Court on Friday that he saw Cashman smoking cannabis in the garden of a house across the road from where he lived at the time of the shooting, at around 10pm on August 22 last year.

David McLachlan KC, prosecuting, asked Mr McHale: "That would give Mr Cashman an alibi wouldn't it? "Are you telling the truth? Or are you just here to try to bail him out?"

Mr McHale replied: "No."

Cashman denies murder
Cashman denies murder. Picture: Alamy

Pointing to the defendant in the dock, Mr McLachlan continued, "Mr McHale, you know what this case is all about? And you are willing to stand there and say at 10pm, you're willing to say you saw that man there?"

Mr McHale replied: "That's correct, because I did." The prosecutor replied: "You are a liar."

"No, I'm not," the witness replied. Mr McLachlan continued: "Has he put you up to it? Have you been paid to be here?"

"I've not, no," the witness replied.

Mr McLachlan said: "Why are you here?" "Because Thomas Cashman is innocent," Mr McHale replied.

Cheryl Korbel, mother of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, arrives at Manchester Crown Court for the trial of Thomas Cashman
Cheryl Korbel, mother of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, arrives at Manchester Crown Court for the trial of Thomas Cashman. Picture: Alamy

Mr McLachlan asked if Cashman was the "main man" for drug dealing in the area. Mr McHale said: "He's known in the area as a big-time drug dealer."

The court heard Mr McHale had been arrested last month on suspicion of assisting an offender and questioned about the shooting of Olivia.

To all questions about the shooting, he answered "no comment", the jury heard.

Mr McLachlan added: "You did not see Thomas Cashman at around 10pm, Mr McHale, did you? I'm suggesting to you, let me make it absolutely crystal clear, that is a lie?

Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia Pratt-Korbel. Picture: Handout

"It's not a lie," Mr McHale replied.

Cashman, who has admitted being a "high-level cannabis dealer", said at about 9.15pm that night he was with his friend Craig Byrne, who had picked him up from where he parked his van on Aspes Road.

He said they went to Mr Byrne's house, on Snowberry Road, where they went into his spare bedroom to count about £10,000 in cash.

Cashman added: "We counted money then went downstairs, I done myself a spliff in the kitchen, went in the back garden and was having just a general chit-chat with Craig."

Read more: 'I was not in a murder frame of mind': Man accused of killing Olivia Pratt-Korbel says he's 'wrongly blamed'

Read more: Man accused of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel tells court he was 'high level cannabis dealer'

He said when he later went into the front garden he could hear sirens and was told by someone there were "police everywhere".

Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia Pratt-Korbel. Picture: Alamy

The jury has heard from a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who had a fling with Cashman, a father of two with a partner of 22 years.

She claimed he went to her house after the shooting where he changed his clothes and she heard him saying he had "done Joey".

Asked if at any stage he did confess, Cashman said: "No, I did not… she is trying to ruin my life because, for one thing, I won't leave my partner for her. There's loads of reasons."

Cashman also claims the woman's boyfriend owed him a £25,000 drug debt so she wanted him "out of the way".He has admitted being a high level cannabis dealer and said he dealt the drug locally.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia Pratt-Korbel. Picture: Alamy

Earlier this week, he broke down in court, insisting: "I'm getting blamed for killing a child and I have got my own children.

"I'm a dad, I'm not a killer, I'm a dad. I'm getting blamed for something I haven't done."

Cashman, of Grenadier Drive, Liverpool, denies the murder of Olivia, the attempted murder of Nee, wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Olivia's mother, and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

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