Olivia Pratt-Korbel's family hopes Thomas Cashman 'haunted' by killing 'scared nine-year-old' for rest of his life

3 April 2023, 16:37 | Updated: 3 April 2023, 17:34

Olivia Pratt-Korbel's family have said they hope the schoolgirl's killer is "haunted" the by death of a "scared nine-year-old' for rest of his life.
Olivia Pratt-Korbel's family have said they hope the schoolgirl's killer is "haunted" the by death of a "scared nine-year-old' for rest of his life. Picture: Alamy / Merseyside Police / Social meda

By Chris Samuel

Olivia Pratt-Korbel's family have said they hope the schoolgirl's killer Thomas Cashman is "haunted" the by death of a "scared nine-year-old' for rest of his life.

Cashman, who shot the nine-year-old girl dead during a botched gangland hit in Liverpool last year, refused to face the judge as he was sentenced to life in prison on Monday.

Olivia's aunt, Louise Pratt, said in a statement on behalf of Olivia's father that the schoolgirl had "died a scared nine year old, and we hope [Thomas] Cashman is haunted by this knowledge for the rest of his life".

She said the the family are happy with the outcome, but "will not be celebrating".

Olivia's mother, Cheryl Korbel said: “We welcome the sentence given but what I can say is that our family and I have already started our life sentence having to spend our lives without Olivia.”

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

Read more: Olivia Pratt-Korbel's killer 'has £250k bounty on head' as gangsters fear murderer will 'grass' to get lighter sentence

In a personal statement read before the court, Cheryl Korbel shared a heartbreaking account of returning to the family home after her daughter's death.

She said: "Right in that moment I was home, we were back to how our lives were before that night and I soaked up the surroundings until reality dawned and brought me back to my living nightmare."

Olivia was standing behind her mum in her family home when she was shot dead.
Olivia was standing behind her mum in her family home when she was shot dead. Picture: Alamy

Ms Korbel said she cannot get her head around "how Cashman continued to shoot after hearing the terrified screams and utter devastation he had caused.

"He doesn't care. His actions have left the biggest hole in our lives.

She added: "That man set out to do a job and he didn't care about anyone else or who got in the way. He certainly couldn't own it either."

Prior to sentencing, Cashman had claimed the proceedings had descended into a "circus" and the court heard he refused to attend as he was aware that the CPS were singing "We are the Champions" following the verdict in his trial.

Thomas Cashman, sketched at an earlier hearing, denied Olivia's murder.
Thomas Cashman, sketched at an earlier hearing, denied Olivia's murder. Picture: Alamy

Cashman's counsel, John Cooper KC, said: "He has been spoken to and been given certain advice but he is concerned that the matter is turning into a circus."

Mrs Justice Yip said she regarded his lack of attendance as "disrespectful" to not only the court but those interested in proceedings, including the family of the deceased.

In his absence the judge handed him a sentence of life in prison with a minimum of 42 years.

Olivia ran downstairs screaming 'Mum I'm scared' moments before she was shot.
Olivia ran downstairs screaming 'Mum I'm scared' moments before she was shot. Picture: Family handout

Cashman had been chasing rival Joseph Nee through the street when his intended target ran towards an open door on the night of August 22 last year, jurors at Manchester Crown Court heard.

The gunman fired through the front door of the Korbel family's home at around 10pm, with a bullet ripping through Cheryl Korbel's wrist before killing her daughter Olivia.

Last week Cashman was found guilty of murdering the nine-year-old girl and wounding with intent regarding the mother's injuries.

Louise Pratt (left) and John Francis Pratt, father of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel outside Manchester Crown Court
Louise Pratt (left) and John Francis Pratt, father of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel outside Manchester Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Olivia Pratt-Korbel's killer 'demanded half his £100k hitman fee for wounding target even after he knew he killed girl'

Read More: How Olivia's killer 'disrespected' her family - refusing to come to court because 'CPS sang We Are The Champions'

Jurors also found him guilty of the attempted murder of Nee, and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Ms Pratt-Korbel, was seen with an "ecstatic" look on her face as she left the court, raising a pink teddy bear into the air and shouting, "yes!".

Dr Rob Hesketh an expert in gang behaviour at Liverpool John Moores University told LBC News reporter Chris Chambers how gun crime goes hand in hand with the lifestyle Cashman was following.

"I think it’s the actual society as a whole we’re living in, a society of conspicuous consumption, people want nice things because that’s part of the identity," he said.

Olivia's devastated mum Cheryl Korbel, outside court
Olivia's devastated mum Cheryl Korbel, outside court. Picture: Alamy

"We can’t go on the net without seeing advertisements for trainers, cars, houses, tracksuits, nice clothes… I’m not defending them in any respect, but young people want those goals because that’s part of an identity that they yearn for.

"But sadly in some communities the legitimate means to get those goals are not always there - as long as you’ve got a community where the dominant philosophy is criminality, then naturally you will get young people who are drawn into that.

Dr Hesketh added that the key driver of this violence is the drug trade, as it brings in a "heck of a lot of money".

"The temptation is always there. If there are no legitimate opportunities within a community and certain individuals are driving around in nice cars and wearing nice clothes, then that will be an attraction.

"Sadly these things start to spiral out of control because what happens is we get territoriality. Groups will take over certain areas, and there will be rivalry between those groups.”

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