Cookies Maywoods

Man accused of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel was 'cannabis dealer'

The man accused of murdering nine-year-old has told a court he was a ‘high-level cannabis dealer’ who made up to £5,000 a week selling the drug.

protected 072922110706547efae75a2d192af8bf46720bfd15fa - Man accused of murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel was 'cannabis dealer'

Thomas Cashman told a jury at Manchester Crown Court today he would sell between 5kg and 10kg of cannabis a week, spending the money from this on cars, bikes and holidays. 

The 34-year-old is accused of murdering Olivia and injuring her mother Cheryl Korbel, 46, after chasing convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee into their home in Dovecot, Liverpool, on August 22 last year.

His admission to being a drug dealer came the same day it was revealed Nee – who survived the attack despite being struck in the midriff – had also been shot at four years earlier.

The prosecution did not suggest Cashman was responsible or involved in the previous incident, which took place in March 2018, but said it showed Nee and his family ‘had their enemies’.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel (pictured) died after being shot at her house in Dovecot, Liverpool, in August last year

Thomas Cashman, pictured here in a court sketch today, denies fatally shooting Olivia while chasing convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee

Prosecutors allege Cashman engaged in a ‘ruthless pursuit’ to shoot Nee ‘at all costs without any consideration for anyone else in the community’. 

But it was a shooting which went ‘horribly wrong’ when a wounded Nee spotted that Olivia’s mother had opened the front door after hearing bangs in the street outside.

Nee dashed towards the house with the gunman in pursuit as Mrs Korbel struggled to close the door, which was on the latch, jurors were told.

Cashman is alleged to have fired a shot through the door which struck her in the hand before hitting Olivia in the chest, just as she ran downstairs saying ‘Mum, I’m scared’.

Tragically she was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to hospital by armed police called to the scene.

Giving evidence today, Cashman, wearing a blue jumper over a white shirt, told the jury he was making between £3,000 and £5,000 a week selling cannabis – shifting between 5kg and 10kg of the drug every seven days.

He said: ‘I would buy cars, bikes, save some, go on holidays and just spend it on stuff that I enjoyed basically.’ 

The defendant said he had left school at the age of 13 or 14 and by the time he was about 16 and working at a fair in Wales he was smoking cannabis every day. 

Cashman, pictured, has told a jury he was a ‘high-level cannabis dealer’ who made up to £5,000 a week selling the drug

Cashman is also accused of shooting Olivia’s mother Cheryl Korbel, pictured here arriving at court earlier this month

Cashman said he started selling cannabis when he was about 18 on a ‘small scale’. 

He said: ‘I was basically smoking my profit.’ 

But by 2021, when he and the family moved to a home in Grenadier Drive, Liverpool, he was selling at a ‘high level’, he told the court. 

He said: ‘I only ever sold it in my area where I’ve been brought up, so everyone I sold it to was everyone I knew.’ 

John Cooper KC, defending, Rder Medical Marijuanas Florida Online said: ‘You became a cannabis dealer, didn’t you?’ 

Cashman replied: ‘Yes, I was a cannabis dealer.’ 

Mr Cooper asked: ‘Were you a high-level cannabis dealer?’ 

Cashman replied: ‘Yes.’ 

He said his ‘catchment area’ was around the Finch Lane area of Dovecot in Liverpool, and he would often get the drugs dropped at his sister’s house in Mab Lane. 

From there, he said, he would take them to whoever had asked for them, or to his friend’s house, which he said was used as a ‘stash house’. 

But, he said, there were issues with him using his sister’s house. 

He said: ‘My sister’s boyfriend is an ex-police officer. 

‘He didn’t like it and he got on my sister over it and they were having arguments between each other about me always being there.’ 

He said that on the day of the shooting his sister had told him to stop having people round to the house because of the arguments. 

Cashman, of Grenadier Drive, Liverpool, denies the murder of Olivia, the attempted murder of Mr 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.