Fury as getaway driver who helped Olivia Pratt-Korbel's killer will get new id after serving 22 month sentence

26 April 2023, 11:53 | Updated: 26 April 2023, 12:35

Getaway driver Paul Russell jailed for 22 months for helping Thomas Cashman after he killed Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Getaway driver Paul Russell jailed for 22 months for helping Thomas Cashman after he killed Olivia Pratt-Korbel. Picture: social media/alamy

By StephenRigley

Olivia Pratt-Korbel's family stormed out of court as the getaway driver who helped the nine-year-old's killer was given a new identity.

Paul Russell, 41, was sentenced to 22 months in prison after pleaded guilty to driving Cashman around following the killing and disposing of a bag believed to contain clothes.

Cashman shot dead the nine-year-old during a botched gangland assassination in Dovecot, Liverpool on August 22 last year, and earlier this months he was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 42 years.

The judge gave Russell credit for going to detectives and naming the killer when he realised Olivia had been shot dead.

The court was told police issued him a "threat to life" notice once he was charged with assisting Cashman, and he's set to be given a new identity when he's released.

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

Read More: Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s cowardly killer Thomas Cashman appeals to have 42-year murder sentence reduced

Read More: Olivia Pratt-Korbel's cowardly killer could face getting prison sentence extended after outrage

Olivia's brother Ryan Korbel walked out during sentencing when the court was told Russel's sentence could be suspended - which the judge ultimately refused, ruling that 'immediate custody' was required owing to the 'seriousness' of the crime.

It came after the murdered girl's father John Pratt yelled 'so what?', when Russell's lawyer said he was finding time in prison 'isolating'.

Judge Mrs Justice Amanda Yip said while some may see his sentence as "lenient", Russell was "brave" to come forward. 

She said: "I take account of your cooperation, the admissions you made in interview and your ongoing willingness to assist the prosecution by giving evidence at Mr Cashman's trial even after you knew you would not be given immunity."

Justice Yip said she had considered whether a suspended sentence would be appropriate, but added: "However, I have concluded appropriate punishment can only be made by immediate custody.

"Assisting a murderer to evade justice will always be treated very seriously. You have not remained silent.'Those who maintain the cover up to the better end can expect no mercy."

Russell was 'terrified' of Cashman and was not aware he had killed the schoolgirl when he helped him, Liverpool Crown Court had heard.

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.

Russell, of West Derby, Liverpool, admitted driving Cashman from an address in the aftermath of Olivia's shooting, which happened at about 10pm on August 22 last year when the gunman chased convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee into the family home in Kingsheath Avenue, firing through the door and also injuring her mother, Cheryl Korbel.

Thomas Cashman
Thomas Cashman. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Smiling Olivia Pratt-Korbel seen laughing and dancing in newly released heartwarming video

Read More: Cowardly drug dealer who killed Olivia Pratt-Korbel, 9, refuses to face victim’s family as he's jailed for 42 years

Cashman could have his 42 year sentence increased after the Attorney General's office received complaints from members of the public that it was too lenient.

The office has until 1 May - 28 days after Cashman's sentencing on 3 April - to decide whether to refer the complaint to the Court of Appeal. Judges there could upgrade his sentence to a whole life order, meaning he will die behind bars.

Cashman was also found guilty of wounding with intent of Olivia's mother, Cheryl Korbel. Cashman got 10 years for attacking Ms Korbel.

A jury also found him guilty of the attempted murder of Joseph Nee, a convicted drug dealer who he had chased into Olivia's home before opening fire. Cashman was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 22 years for that offence.

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