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Man accused of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel is innocent, witness tells court

A man accused of murdering a nine-year-old girl in a botched “execution” is innocent, an alibi witness has told a court.

Nicky McHale, 32, told a jury he saw and spoke to Thomas Cashman, 34, around the time he is alleged to have shot dead Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Dovecot, Liverpool.

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

Under cross-examination, David McLachlan KC, prosecuting, asked the witness, giving evidence from behind a screen, “Why are you here Mr McHale?”

Mr McHale replied: “Because I know Thomas Cashman is innocent.”

Mr McLachlan continued: “Been put-up to being here?”

“No, I’m not,” the witness replied.

Thomas Cashman artist sketch
Thomas Cashman is charged with murdering nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Cashman is alleged to have shot convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee, 36, in the street, then his victim fled into the youngster’s home as her mother Cheryl Korbel tried to block his entry, Manchester Crown Court has heard.

Cashman is accused of firing again, the bullet hitting Ms Korbel in the hand, then hitting and killing her daughter, stood behind her.

Mr McHale said on the night of the shooting he had been watching football on TV at home on Snowberry Road, Dovecot, and when the match finished went outside to smoke a cigarette.

He told the jury that while stood on his front door he looked across the road and saw Cashman smoking a spliff in the front garden of the house opposite.

He said the two spoke briefly about the football match before McHale went back inside his home.

After the shooting, Cashman is alleged to have gone to the house of a woman he had a fling with and changed his clothes.

The woman, a key prosecution witness, who cannot be identified, alleges she overheard Cashman say he had “done Joey”.

However, Mr McHale said after initially seeing Cashman across the road the defendant was later in his house to smoke another spliff and asked for a drink.

He did not have any in the house, so used Cashman’s van to go to a local shop to buy tins of coke, his trip being caught on CCTV.

Earlier, under questioning from John Cooper KC, defending, Mr McHale said he had never given evidence in court before and his only previous conviction was for possession with intent to supply £4,000 worth of cannabis.

Cashman has admitted being a “high-level” cannabis dealer, making up to £5,000 a week in drugs money, but denies he was the gunman who shot Olivia dead.

The defendant, 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.

The trial continues.