Mum I’m scared, cried Olivia, 9, ... seconds later she lay dying in her own home,‘victim of ruthless gunman’
Jury told of death plot that went wrong
A GIRL of nine pleaded ‘Mum, I’m scared’ moments before she was shot dead by a gunman chasing his target into her home, a jury heard yesterday.
Olivia Pratt-Korbel was standing on the stairs behind her mother, Cheryl, when she was hit in the chest by a bullet fired by ‘relentless’ and ‘ruthless’ Thomas Cashman, a court was told.
Seconds earlier, Olivia had been frightened out of bed and ran to her mother after hearing a commotion outside their home in Dovecot, Liverpool, as Cashman, 34, allegedly shot Joseph Nee in August.
Olivia’s mother had opened her front door to find out what was going on when Nee, bleeding and injured, saw the light from her doorway tried to barge in to escape Cashman, the court heard.
Cashman is alleged to have fired again at Nee but the bullet went through Ms Korbel’s right hand and hit Olivia in the centre of her chest.
David McLachlan KC, opening the case for the prosecution at Manchester Crown Court, said: ‘Cheryl Korbel said “I’ve been shot”. She turned round and saw her daughter, Olivia, at the bottom of the stairs – she referred to her as “the baby”. She said: “I remember when I turned round and realised the baby was right behind me... because she’d come... obviously come down the stairs ‘cause she’d heard... she went all floppy and her eyes went to the back of her head.
‘“And I realised that she must’ve 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.”’
According to her brother, Olivia had run downstairs after hearing the commotion outside saying: ‘Mum, I’m scared.’ After Olivia was shot, a neighbour told police they heard ‘ the worst screaming
I’ve ever heard in my life’.
As Ms Korbel screamed that ‘Livia had been hit’ and begged her daughter to ‘stay with me baby’, Cashman fired another round before fleeing the carnage, the jury heard.
As the traumatised family waited for police, Olivia’s sister Chloe could be heard saying: ‘Where are they, where are they, she is dying.’
Armed police were at the scene within minutes of the 999 call.
Instead of waiting for an ambulance, officers took the critically injured schoolgirl – who still had a faint heartbeat – to hospital in the back of their patrol car. But tragically Olivia was pronounced dead soon after arriving at hospital. Mr McLachlan told jurors: ‘Such was the planning and ruthless nature of this attack that Thomas Cashman, we say, went armed and was in possession of two loaded firearms. When, in all likelihood one of them failed, he simply turned to the other one to execute, literally, his plan.
‘ Thomas Cashman’s actions resulted in Joseph Nee being injured, Cheryl Korbel being injured, and most tragically of all in this case, Olivia Pratt-Korbel being killed.’ In the run-up to the shooting on August 22 last year, CCTV cameras recorded Cashman, 34, driving close to a house where Nee was due to watch that evening’s Manchester United versus Liverpool match on television multiple times, jurors were told.
Those journeys included what the prosecution say was an attempt to kill Nee just before 4pm – only for ‘hooded-up’ Cashman to be ‘thwarted’.
As Nee and a friend left the property following the final whistle, the gunman ran from behind and fired three shots, the court heard.
As one bullet struck Nee in the midriff, his friend ran off, with witnesses saying Nee begged his attacker: ‘What are you doing lad?’
Footage played to the jury showed Nee stumbling as three loud bangs were heard, with the gunman aiming his weapon at him from close range.
Jurors were told that as a prone and bleeding Nee begged ‘Please don’t!’, the gun apparently malfunctioned and failed to fire. That enabled Nee to run off – just at the point Ms Korbel opened her front door, prompting him to target her house as an escape route.
Determined to ‘complete his task’, the court heard Cashman pulled out a second loaded firearm – only for Olivia and her mother to be hit instead. Ms Korbel later told police that with her children, Chloe, Ryan and Olivia, upstairs she ‘jumped up and went outside’. Seeing Nee being chased by the gunman she ‘ turned in a panic and ran back towards her house’, Mr McLachlan said.
She tried to close the door – but ‘it never caught fully because it was on the catch’, she told police, after neighbours had been round for a cup of tea. At that point, Nee ran up the driveway and started ‘banging on the door’, shouting:
‘Help me!’ After Cashman allegedly fled to the house of a woman he knew, Nee was picked up by ‘his mates’ and taken to hospital.
The woman – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – later told police she heard Cashman say the name ‘Joey Nee’ and something along the lines of: ‘I’ve done Joey.’ Mr McLachlan told jurors that he ‘anticipated’ Cashman would accept the prosecution’s account of his earlier movements – but deny the gunman was him.
Mr McLachlan told jurors they could convict Cashman ‘on the evidence, not on emotion and sympathy’. Olivia and Cashman’s relatives filled the public gallery as Cashman – in a white shirt and a tie, with short brown hair and a beard – sat in the dock, accompanied by four security officers.
Cashman, of West Derby, Liverpool, denies the murder of Olivia, the attempted murder of Nee and the wounding with intent of Ms Korbel. He also denies two counts of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.
The trial continues.
‘Worst screaming I’ve ever heard’
‘Turned in a panic and ran back’