Olivia Pratt-Korbel: jury begins deliberation over man accused of shooting nine-year-old in Liverpool
The jury has been sent to deliberate after three-and-a-half weeks of hearing evidence both for and against Thomas Cashman's innocence
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Jurors will now decide whether the man accused of fatally shooting nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel is not guilty despite being "no angel", or is trying to "pull the wool" over their eyes.
Thomas Cashman, 34, is accused of fatally shooting Olivia and injuring her mother, Cheryl Korbel, 46, after chasing convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee into their house in Dovecot, Liverpool, on 22 August last year.
Cashman has been on trial in the Manchester Crown Court for about a month now, after earlier pleading not guilty to 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 jury has heard testimony from a range of witnesses, from Olivia's brother - who saw an arm with a gun appear around their front door as Nee and his mother wrestled to close it; to an on-off lover of the accused who told the court he came to her house after the shooting and changed his clothes, before she heard him say he had “done Joey”; to Cashman himself, who claimed he was a cannabis dealer, but had been counting cash and smoking a "spliff" with a friend at the time of the shooting.
On Wednesday (29 March), three-and-a-half weeks after the trial began, jurors were sent out to consider their verdicts shortly before midday. Over the past few days they had heard closing arguments from lawyers on both sides.
The prosecution claimed Cashman was trying to “pull the wool” over jurors’ eyes. David McLachlan KC said this was a “case that shocked not simply a city not too far away from here, but also a nation”.
He said: “The news at the time made front page headlines across the country and this is a case which will live with you forever.” But he told the jury this was not a trial based on sympathy or emotion.
“The straightforward conclusion, we submit, is the man in the dock, Thomas Cashman, is not the unluckiest man in the world with all these circumstances conspiring against him. He is not the victim of a woman trying to stitch him up for murder.
“The man in the dock, we submit, is the gunman who shot Olivia and he is not prepared to own it," Mr McLachlan said. “We say – but you will decide – that Thomas Cashman must think that you were all born yesterday."
He continued: "Fortunately you were not, and every day you have come into this court you have brought something with you. That commodity you have brought with you every day is common sense.
"You know better than anyone when someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes; that’s what the prosecution say Thomas Cashman is trying to do." Mr McLachlan claimed Cashman tried to make his case fit the prosecution evidence.
It was alleged that Cashman was "scoping" out Nee, the intended target, earlier in the day, and after the attack fled to the home of a woman he had a fling with, where she heard him say he had "done Joey".
But the defendant claimed his activities were due to his work as a cannabis dealer and the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is lying because she is a "woman scorned". Mr McLachlan described Cashman’s evidence as a “dummy’s guide to drug dealing in Dovecot”.
During the prosecution's closing speech, CCTV of the moment the shots were fired was shown to the court. Mr McLachlan said: “The evidence will lead you to the truth."
Cashman's barrister told the court he was “probably one of the most hated people in the country”, but was not guilty. John Cooper KC, defending, slammed the prosecution's claim Cashman was trying to pull the wool over the jury's eyes.
“The suggestions are easy to make because the defendant is sitting in the dock, the only person there, probably one of the most hated people in the country," he said. During his evidence at Manchester Crown Court, Cashman told the jury he was a “high-level” cannabis dealer in the area.
Mr Cooper said: "I’m not putting Cashman to you as an angel, far from it. I don’t necessarily even have to like the guy, neither do you.
"We’ll never talk again after this trial, we’re not mates. It’s a matter of doing my job and you doing your job," he told jurors.
Mr Cooper said the family of Nee, the intended target of the shooting, “had their enemies” and there were other people who wanted him dead. “When Tommy Cashman says to you ‘it wasn’t me’, it therefore must have been someone else, that’s not pie in the sky, we submit, it’s based on fact.”
He said the woman who claimed Cashman came to her house after the shooting was telling “downright lies”. Mr Cooper said the defendant had a “sordid relationship” with the woman, but was “never ever” going to leave his fiancée for her. “He was never going to play any meaningful part in her life, that obviously was not what she wanted to hear.”
Closing his speech, Mr Cooper said: “The defence have done their best now to show you the evidence for what it is. We ask you to carefully look at it and to conclude that on all counts this defendant is not guilty.”
The defendant, of Grenadier Drive, West Derby, Liverpool, denies murdering 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.