22 March 2023

Olivia Pratt-Korbel murder accused tells court: ‘I’m a dad, I’m not a killer’

22 March 2023

The man accused of killing Olivia Pratt-Korbel has told a court “I’m a dad, I’m not a killer”.

Thomas Cashman, 34, who is charged with murdering the nine-year-old, appeared to become emotional as he gave evidence for a second day at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday.

Asked by John Cooper KC, defending, if he had committed any of the offences he was accused of, he said: “No, I did not.

“I am getting the blame for something I haven’t done.

“I didn’t do it and I’m getting the blame for it.

“I’m getting blamed for killing a child and I have got my own children.

“I’m a dad, I’m not a killer, I’m a dad.

“I’m getting blamed for something I haven’t done.”

A gunman shot Olivia and injured her mother, Cheryl Korbel, 46, after chasing convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee into their home in Dovecot, Liverpool, at about 10pm on August 22 last year.

Cashman, who has admitted being a “high-level cannabis dealer”, said at about 9.15pm that night he was with his friend Craig Byrne, who had picked him up from where he parked his van on Aspes Road.

He said they went to Mr Byrne’s house, on Snowberry Road, where they went into his spare bedroom to count about £10,000 in cash.

Cashman 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.”

He said when he later went into the front garden he could hear sirens and was told by someone there were “police everywhere”.

Earlier in the trial, the jury heard from a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who had a fling with Cashman, a father of two with a partner of 22 years.

She claimed he 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, 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.”

Cashman also claims the woman’s boyfriend owed him a £25,000 drug debt so she wanted him “out of the way”.

He told the jury: “She’s ruined my life, what she said, she has done to me, what she’s doing, what she’s done, she’s ruined my life.”

John Cooper KC, defending, went over in detail the numerous movements of Cashman in the local area, caught on CCTV and doorbell cameras, on the day of Olivia’s murder.

Prosecutors allege Cashman walked and travelled in his van around the area ahead of a plan to find Nee and execute a “hit”.

But Cashman denied his movements showed he was planning the alleged hit on Nee and were instead to do with his cannabis dealing.

He said his various movements were to do with him dropping off drugs and collecting money at various addresses in Dovecot and sometimes “socialising” by having a spliff with friends.

Mr Cooper said: “It’s suggested that the purpose of your movements were not for the reason you say, but either for the reason of executing a hit or planning a hit?”

Cashman replied: “No, that’s not true whatsoever. What you see here is typical of a local lad who sells cannabis in the area.”

Under cross-examination, the defendant, wearing a blue V-neck jumper with shirt and tie, accepted he made up to £250,000 a year from selling cannabis but refused to reveal who he bought it from or sold it to.

He said: “I’m getting stitched up for murder of a child that I did not commit. I didn’t do it.”

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.

The trial will continue on Thursday.

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