Olivia Pratt-Korbel: Murder trial hears of 'chaos' after shooting

The schoolgirl was fatally shot by a gunman who chased a convicted burglar into her home in Liverpool last August.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated family handout file photo issued by Merseyside Police of nine-Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine, was fatally shot by a gunman who chased a convicted burglar into her home in Liverpool
Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine, was fatally shot by a gunman who chased a convicted burglar into her home in Liverpool. (PA)

Eyewitnesses have recounted the "chaos" surrounding the shooting of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel who was shot after a man trying to escape an armed pursuer burst into their home.

Thomas Cashman, 34, is accused of carrying out the attack in Dovecot, Liverpool, which killed Olivia and injured her mother Cheryl Korbel, 46. Cashman denies being the gunman.

On the fourth day of the trial, the jury of 10 men and two women heard police statements from neighbours of the Korbel family.

The court heard from Libby Boylan who had just parked nearby with her mother when they heard two loud bangs.

Ms Boylan said she heard her mum shout and then saw two men run past the car, they soon realised one had a gun.

She told the court she saw the two men run onto the driveway of a house one after another.

The second stopped running and raised "his right hand towards the front door of the house", Ms Boylan told the court.

"I saw he had a small black handgun in a gloved hand then saw a flash and heard another loud bang.

Ms Boylan said she drove away after she heard the bangs to get away from the situation, but returned later to see police at the scene.

2P4CRAG File photo dated 17/2/2023 of court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Thomas Cashman. The trial of a man accused of the murder of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel is due to begin on Monday at Manchester Crown Court. Olivia was fatally shot at her home in Dovecot, Liverpool, just after 10pm on August 22 last year. Cashman, 34, denies the murder of Olivia, the attempted murder of Joseph Nee and the wounding with intent of Olivia's mother Cheryl Korbel. Issue date: Monday March 6, 2023.
A court artist's sketch of Thomas Cashman, who is accused of murdering Olivia. (Alamy)

Her statement added: "I saw officers run into the address then saw an officer run out of the address carrying a little girl in his arms. I could see her pyjamas were blood-stained."

Ms Boylan's mother, Lisa, told the court: "She wore a white nightie which had a lot of blood all over the neck, all over the chest area. She appeared floppy.

"I knew immediately the little girl had been shot."

"The whole incident has made me feel sick, I’m still in shock and upset."

Adele Maher, another neighbour, looked through her bedroom blinds after hearing two loud bangs and saw one male dressed in black, "from head to toe" chasing another male who was pleading, "Please lad, please."

Ms Maher said this was immediately followed by "the worst screaming I have ever heard in my life". She told the court: "Women screaming, hysterical, out of control. It threw me into an instant panic. I flew downstairs and was hyperventilating."

Olivia Heffron, who was at her partner’s house over the road from the victims' house, said she heard three or four loud bangs in the street outside and went to the window.

She saw one man she thought was holding a gun, pursuing a second man who was saying, "What are you doing lad?"

The street "descended into chaos" after the shooting, Ms Heffron added, and she saw her neighbour screaming, shouting, "She is dying, she’s been shot in the chest. Has anyone got a towel?"

On the third day of the trial, jurors were shown his movements on the day of the fatal shooting, with Cashman arriving and leaving at his sister's house several times.

Police said he had planned to attack Nee after seeing his van nearby but then returned to his sister's after the van was moved.

Flowers are left near to the scene of an incident in Kingsheath Avenue, Knotty Ash, Liverpool, where nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel was fatally shot on Monday night. Picture date: Thursday August 25, 2022. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
Flowers at the scene in Knotty Ash, Liverpool, where Olivia was fatally shot last August. (PA)

Read more: Timeline: Death of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel

On Tuesday, the court heard that Olivia had screamed out "Mum, I’m scared" just seconds before she was shot dead.

The bullet allegedly fired by Cashman went through the front door, hitting the hand of Olivia's mother, Cheryl Korbel, 46, and fatally wounded her daughter.

Prosecutor David McLachlan said Cashman had been "lying in wait" for Nee, who was watching a football match at the home of another man, Timothy Naylor, in Dovecot.

When Nee left the house at about 10pm, a gunman, who the prosecution alleges was Cashman, ran behind him and fired three shots from a self-loading pistol, one of which hit Nee in the midriff, the court heard.

Nee stumbled and Cashman stood over him and tried to fire again but, possibly because the pistol malfunctioned, he was unable to complete his "task" and kill him, McLachlan said.

Olivia's mother opened her door after hearing a noise outside and as she did so Nee "made a dash" towards her house, with Cashman in pursuit, it was said.

Read more: Jurors in Olivia Pratt-Korbel murder trial told to put emotion aside

Cheryl Korbel, mother of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, arrives at Manchester Crown Court for the trial of Thomas Cashman, who is charged with murdering her daughter, who was shot in her home in Dovecot, Liverpool, on August 22. Picture date: Monday March 6, 2023.
Olivia's mother Cheryl Korbel arrives at Manchester Crown Court on Monday. (PA)

He fired at Nee from a second weapon, a revolver, and hit the front door of the family home, the court heard.

McLachlan said: "That fourth likely shot passed through the door, it then passed through Cheryl Korbel's right hand as she was no doubt trying to shut the door. The bullet then went into the chest of Cheryl Korbel's daughter Olivia Pratt-Korbel."

The court heard Nee ran up the driveway of the Korbels' home and began banging on the door and shouting "help me".

McLachlan told the jury that Ms Korbel had said she was screaming at him to "go away".

The court heard her say: “I heard the gunshot and realised... I felt it, it hit my hand."

McLachlan said she then turned round and saw Olivia.

The jury was told she said: "I remember when I turned round and realised the baby was right behind me because she'd come obviously down the stairs cause she'd heard."

Ms Korbel was then described as being at the top of the stairs with Olivia, saying: "Stay with me baby."

Olivia was pronounced dead at Alder Hey Children's Hospital later that evening.

Watch: Olivia Pratt-Korbel's mother arrives at court on Monday ahead of murder trial

Olivia's murder drew widespread condemnation, as well as numerous appeals for information from the public, with £200,000 offered as a reward to help catch her killer.

There were 11 arrests over her death as part of the wide-scale investigation.

Almost six weeks after Olivia’s death, police charged Cashman with her murder. Paul Russell, 40, of West Derby, was charged with assisting an offender.

Cashman, from Liverpool, denies the murder of Olivia, the attempted murder of Joseph Nee, wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Ms Korbel and two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

The trial continues and is expected to last four weeks.