'I'm being blamed for killing a child': Olivia Pratt-Korbell murder suspect breaks down in court

Thomas Cashman
Thomas Cashman

The alleged gunman accused of killing Olivia Pratt-Korbel broke down in court as he told jurors, “I’m a dad. I’m being blamed for killing a child”.

Thomas Cashman claimed that at the time of the shooting, on Aug 22, he was “having a spliff and a chit-chat” while counting thousands of pounds of drug money at a friend's house a few streets away.

Olivia, a nine-year-old schoolgirl, was allegedly shot through the chest in her own home by 34-year-old Mr Cashman who, the court was told, had been “ruthlessly and relentlessly pursuing” another man, Joseph Nee, in Knotty Ash, Liverpool.

On Wednesday, at Manchester Crown Court, Mr Cashman, a father of two, became emotional giving evidence in his defence, and denied any involvement in the shooting.

Prof John Cooper, KC, defending, said: “You are accused of serious criminal offences and one particular offence which couldn’t be more serious.”

Mr Cashman then became tearful, before replying: “I’m getting blamed for killing a child. I’ve got my own children. I’m not a killer, I’m a dad. I’m getting blamed for something I haven’t done.”

Olivia Pratt-Korbel - PA
Olivia Pratt-Korbel - PA

The defendant, who has admitted being a “high-level cannabis dealer” making up to £250,000 a year, said that at about 9.15pm on the night of the shooting he was with a friend, Craig Byrne.

He told the court they went to Mr Byrne's house where they counted out about £10,000 in cash in his spare bedroom.

He 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."

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

Mr Cashman also accused a key witness in the trial, who cannot be named for legal reasons, of “stitching him up” and wanting to “ruin him”.

The witness claimed that Mr Cashman 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, Mr Cashman said: "No, I did not, she's trying to ruin my life. She is trying to ruin my life because, for one thing, I won't leave my partner for her. There's loads of reasons."

He added: “I’m getting stitched up for the murder of a child that I did not commit.”

Mr Cashman also claims the woman's boyfriend owed him a £25,000 drug debt so she wanted him "out of the way".

Questions on clothing

During cross examination Mr Cashman also denied that tracksuit bottoms the gunman is alleged to have been wearing, and he was said to have been seen wearing two days after the murder, were particularly distinctive, claiming “Everyone in the whole of Liverpool wears them.”

He added: “If I was to commit such a serious offence as to commit the murder of a child would I be wearing the same tracksuit bottoms two days later?”

Mr Cashman is accused of carrying out the attack that killed Olivia and injured her mother Cheryl Korbel, 46, and also convicted burglar Nee, 34, who was said to be “without doubt” the intended target.

Mr Cashman, from 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.

The trial continues.