Olivia Pratt-Korbel: murder accused tells court he was smoking a 'spliff', counting money at time of shooting

Cashman has admitted to the court he was a high-level cannabis dealer, but denies shooting a nine-year-old girl, saying "I’m a dad, I’m not a killer"

The man accused of Olivia Pratt-Korbel's murder has denied he was the gunman who fired shots in her Liverpool home, saying he was with a friend counting cash and smoking a joint at the time.

Thomas Cashman, 34, is accused of fatally shooting nine-year-old Olivia and injuring her mother, Cheryl, 46, after chasing convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee into their house in Dovecot, in August last year. 

Cashman is on trial in the Manchester Crown Court, after 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 trial has now entered its fourth, and possibly final week, with Cashman himself giving evidence. The defendant told the jury he was a “high-level cannabis dealer”, but said he was counting cash and smoking a “spliff” around the time of the shooting.

Cashman said at about 9.15pm the night of the shooting, he was with friend Craig Byrne, who had picked him up from where he had parked his van nearby. He said they went to Mr Byrne’s house, on Snowberry Road, where they went into his spare bedroom to count out about £10,000 in cash.

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

Thomas Cashman appears in the dock at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court. Image: Court artist sketch by Elizabeth CookThomas Cashman appears in the dock at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court. Image: Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook
Thomas Cashman appears in the dock at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court. Image: Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook

Cashman told the court "I’m a dad, I’m not a killer". "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."

The court previously 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 claimed the woman’s boyfriend owed him a £25,000 drug debt so she wanted him, “out of the way”. During her testimony, the woman denied lying to police about Cashman.

His defence lawyer John Cooper KC suggested to the witness that Cashman had used her for sex, and this had made her tell lies to police to “ruin” him. She replied that this was not the case. “I have had to do what I have had to do for a little girl here. I have had to go through a lot of pain, to think about what Tommy done.”

Mr Cooper continued: “About the time of this tragic killing, you were angry, resentful and vindictive.” She replied: “I was not. I certainly didn’t want a relationship with a thug with a little w***y.”

The court also previously heard from the victim's brother, who described hearing her say “I’m scared, I’m scared”, as he recalled the frightening scenes before and after his little sister was shot.

In a video interview played to the court, Ryan Korbel said he left his room after hearing several loud bangs, and saw Olivia four or five steps up from the bottom of the staircase, a man lying on the floor, and his mother “wrestling” with the door.

“The door’s burst back open but my mum’s behind it. An arm’s come round the door with a black handgun and another shot’s gone off, it could be two, I can’t remember,” he told the court.

“My mum put Liv in my arms and told me to keep pressure on her chest. I didn’t know why until I lifted her pyjama top up and seen a hole,” he said. “Her lips had gone blue, she wasn’t even bleeding out the gunshot wound,” he said. “I knew it was over.”

The trial continues.