A 34-year-old drug dealer, Thomas Cashman, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for the murder of a 9-year-old girl in Liverpool while attempting to gun down a rival. Cashman refused to attend the emotional hearing at Manchester Crown Court, claiming the proceedings were turning into a “circus.”
On August 22, Cashman targeted Joseph Nee over a drug debt, opening fire on a Liverpool street. Nee fled from Cashman and sought refuge in Cheryl Korbel’s home, but Korbel attempted to block the door. Cashman continued shooting, and one bullet passed through Korbel’s wrist, fatally striking her youngest child, Olivia Pratt-Korbel, in the chest.
As a result of her own injury, the mother was unable to help her dying daughter. Justice Amanda Yip described the incident as a “planned execution” that shocked the nation. She emphasized that, although the young girl was not Cashman’s intended target, he showed no concern for who might be hit by the gunfire.
For Cashman to be eligible for parole, he must serve a minimum of 42 years. A jury convicted him of Olivia’s murder, attempted murder for shooting Nee, and wounding Cheryl Korbel.
Cashman refused to attend the hearing after allegedly hearing prosecutors singing “We Are The Champions” following his conviction. Justice Yip deemed his absence disrespectful and proceeded with sentencing without him. This prevented Olivia’s family, who wore her favorite color, pink, from addressing Cashman directly while sharing their grief.
John Pratt, Olivia’s father, expressed his heartbreak in a statement read by prosecutor Henry Riding. He had seen his daughter for the first time in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just a day before she was killed.