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‘I knew she’d gone’, Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s mother tells interview heard by court

The mother of a nine-year-old girl who was shot in her home tearfully told police officers “I knew she had gone” as she described the moment in a video interview played to a court.

Cheryl Korbel, 46, was injured in the shooting which killed her daughter Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Dovecot, Liverpool, as a gunman chased Joseph Nee.

Thomas Cashman, 34, is accused of firing shots into the family home at about 10pm on August 22 last year.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia Pratt-Korbel was killed in the shooting in August last year (Family handout/PA)

On Thursday, the jury in Cashman’s trial at Manchester Crown Court was shown a video interview with Ms Korbel, who suffered an injury after the bullet was fired at the front door, went through her hand and then hit Olivia, who was standing behind her on the stairs.

She told police she had heard bangs outside her home and when she went outside to look, saw a man coming up the road.

She said: “Then I spotted this other lad behind him, dressed all in black, couldn’t see his face or nothing, and I realised at that point that it was gunshots because, like, the other one was running after him.

“At that point I realised he was running towards me so I ran back to the house.”

Court artist sketch of Thomas Cashman
Thomas Cashman is accused of firing shots into Ms Korbel’s home (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

After being given a tissue by her partner, sitting next to her during the interview, Ms Korbel said she closed her front door but it did not shut properly because it was left on the catch.

Speaking through tears, the mother-of-three, with her arm in a bandage, said: “I tried to keep hold of the door, I was just screaming, screaming to go away and then I heard the gunshot and I realised, because I felt it hit my hand.

“I couldn’t keep the door shut because it wasn’t locked, and with my hand I couldn’t keep it shut, so I let it go and I think at the same time I heard the baby speak and that’s when I turned round and I spotted her sat at the bottom of the stairs.

“I leant over her and like held her to the left, I just huddled over.”

She said her son Ryan helped her to carry Olivia up the stairs and she shouted for a towel to stop the bleeding.

She added: “Ryan turned round and said to me ‘mum, I can’t do this’ so I tried to move the baby again up to the top of the stairs.

“I heard the lad downstairs shouting ‘please lad, don’t’ and I heard another gunshot.

“I couldn’t keep her awake.”

Cheryl Korbel, centre, arrives with family members at Manchester Crown Court
Cheryl Korbel, centre, with family members at Manchester Crown Court (Peter Byrne/PA)

She added: “She went all floppy and her eyes went to the back of her head and I realised that she must have been hit because I didn’t know until then and I lifted her top up and the bullet had got her right in the middle of the chest.”

She said a neighbour came in and started CPR on Olivia.

She added: “I knew she’d gone, I knew she’d gone.

“Then the police turned up and came up and just picked her up and took her out the house.”

She said she was taken to hospital for treatment to her hand and while she was there, she was told Olivia “had gone”.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia was standing behind her mother when she was injured, the court heard (Family handout/PA)

She said: “I just went hysterical screaming I wanted my baby.”

She described a phone call with a friend who was with Olivia at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Ms Korbel told police: “She told me she was with the baby and I told her not to leave her on her own and she promised me that she wouldn’t.

“She said she looked like she was sleeping, so I made her promise she wouldn’t leave her on her own.”

A number of people in the public gallery were in tears as Ms Korbel’s interview was played.

At one point, Cashman was handed a tissue by a dock officer after appearing to wipe away tears with his hand.

Court artist sketch of Thomas Cashman
Thomas Cashman denies murdering Olivia (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Asked to go through the incident again by a detective taking notes, Ms Korbel said time seemed to slow down as the incident first began and she saw the gunman and another man run towards her.

She said: “This might sound daft, although they were running, it was like it was in slow motion. I can’t make sense of it myself.

“My wrist was, blood was just squirting everywhere. I screamed, ‘I’ve been shot’.”

Ms Korbel said she thought she heard Olivia say “mum”, and when she turned around her daughter was sat on the second step of the stairs and did not realise what had happened until she carried her daughter further up the steps.

“She was gasping for breath,” Ms Korbel said.

Armed police escort a van into Manchester Crown Court for the trial
Armed police escort a van into Manchester Crown Court for the trial (Peter Byrne/PA)

“I was screaming for her to stay with me. There was blood everywhere. I kept saying it was mine, it was mine, but I knew it was not right.

“So I lifted her top, then that’s when I realised she had been shot in the chest.

“I was just screaming, ‘Please Liv, stay with me’.”

Ms Korbel added: “I just want them caught.”

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.

His trial is expected to last four weeks.