Olivia Pratt-Korbel: witness denies being motivated by reward money

A key prosecution witness in the trial of the man accused of murdering nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel has told a jury she helped police because she “couldn’t sleep at night” and denied being motivated by money.

The woman, who cannot be named, claims Thomas Cashman, the man accused of Olivia’s murder, visited her home immediately after the shooting.

Cashman, 34, is accused of murdering Olivia and injuring her mother, Cheryl Korbel, 46, at their home in Dovecot, Liverpool, last August.

The prosecution says Cashman pursued Joseph Nee, a convicted burglar, into Olivia’s home, firing two shots, one of which hit the mother and daughter.

Giving evidence at Manchester crown court, the prosecution witness angrily denied she was motivated by a £100,000 Crimestoppers reward advertised after the killing.

John Cooper KC, for Cashman, put to the woman that she was in “severe financial difficulty” and that one of her friends owed the defendant £25,000 as part of a drug debt. She denied the claims, saying she was stable financially and it was “ridiculous” to suggest her friend owed Cashman such money.

A police document read to jurors described how the witness had “jokingly” asked two Merseyside police officers whether her children would be entitled to a Crimestoppers reward for helping the investigation.

The witness, giving evidence from behind a screen, said: “No, we were having the conservation. They brought up in conversation they’re going to ask you about the money. It’s never been about money.

“We came forward day two without any reward being offered. We couldn’t sleep at night. We wanted to the first day, but we couldn’t trust anyone.”

She told the court the conversation about the reward was “banter” and “a little laugh and joke”.

The witness said she initially “went mad” when a £250,000 reward was offered because she and a friend had “ruined both our families’ lives” to help the police. But she now believed the reward was a good idea because police were trying to find a firearm allegedly used by Cashman in the attack, she told the court.

Judge Amanda Yip repeatedly had to intervene during heated exchanges between the witness and Cooper.

The woman, who had a previous sexual relationship with Cashman, has denied wanting to “ruin” the defendant because their romance had turned sour. The witness accused Cashman’s barrister of trying to humiliate her by asking personal questions about her sex life, finances and beauty routine.

When Cooper asked whether it was correct that the witness had gone to the gym and got her nails done the day after Olivia’s murder, she replied: “Am I getting shouted at for getting my nails done now, Sir Cooper?

“I got my nails done and they were absolutely amazing, Sir Cooper, I wish I could’ve showed you them.”

Under re-examination by the prosecutor David McLachlan KC, the woman described how her children were left “traumatised” when “12 to 15” police officers swooped on a train and arrested her on suspicion of assisting an offender.

No charges were ever brought and the woman, who now lives outside Liverpool, is a key prosecution witness in the trial, the jury has been told.

Asked by McLachlan why she was giving evidence against Cashman, the woman became tearful and said: “Because of this little girl. I’m sorry but I can’t forgive anyone who has hurt any child.

“If he was any sort of man he would just fucking own it. I can’t believe he’s making this family go through what they’re going through. It’s a child, it’s a child. She can never go home again. It breaks my heart.

“I feel guilty because I can go home to my children. They should all be ashamed of themselves – all youse who are supporting him as well. Every single last one of you.”

The jury was shown footage of the moment Cashman was arrested by armed officers 11 days after the shooting.

Police body-worn video played to the court showed Cashman being dragged to the ground by armed officers. The defendant, wearing blue shorts and a T-shirt, was arrested at an apartment at the Decks in Runcorn shortly before 1am on 2 September.

The footage heard him shouting: “What have I done? Go on, tell me, what have I done?” When he was told he was under arrest on suspicion of murder and two counts of attempted murder, he replied: “I haven’t committed no offence what youse are talking about. None whatsoever.”

The trial continues.

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