‘Silence is not an option’: Police accuse those holding back information about the murder of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel of ‘protecting the killers’ as officers bring in sniffer dogs in fresh hunt for evidence

  • Police sniffer dogs were spotted outside the home of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine
  • The girl was shot by a gunman who burst into her home in Liverpool last Monday
  • Police issued a stern appeal to witnesses who may be withholding information
  • The force bailed two men who were arrested over the nine-year-old’s death

Sniffer dogs were spotted outside the home of Olivia Pratt-Korbel today as police continue to try to piece together the circumstances leading to her murder.

Merseyside Police issued a stern warning to people who may be harbouring facts about the nine-year-old’s death.

Olivia died when a gunman burst into the family’s home in the suburb of Dovecot, Liverpool, last Monday night, while chasing another intruder.

He opened fire, shooting the girl in the chest and injuring her mother.

In a hard-hitting video, officers warned that people are protecting killers if they are withholding information about the murder.

Handguns are being smuggled into the city from Eastern Europe, with shotguns being stolen from rural farms by county lines drugs gangs, the Mirror reported.

Police use sniffer dogs while investigating the scene of Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s death in the suburb of Dovecot, Liverpool

Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine, was gunned down inside her family home after a balaclava-clad gunman burst in at night in pursuit of drug dealer Joseph Nee. Olivia’s mother, Cheryl, was also shot in the wrist and Nee was left seriously injured

Police are using sniffer dogs as the investigation into the young girl’s death reached day six

Liverpool has been united in grief following the shooting of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine, last Monday

The paper reported that shotguns, or ‘shotties’, are the most desired weapons in the city, on word of an anonymous informant. 

This is because it is harder for firearm specialists to trace bullets from a shotgun, they said.

‘If you want a gun you can get one very easily,’ another source said.

‘Stashed across the city are all kinds of shooters. Shotties, nines (9mm pistols) even submachine guns – MP5s, Heckler & Kochs. Ex-squaddies bring them over from Northern Ireland. You just need to put the word out and can get one in a day or two.’

Pistols bought for less than £200 and brought into the country from Bulgaria are  also being converted in ‘factories’ to ‘fire live rounds’ before being sold for £2,500. 

However thugs that cannot afford to buy one of the weapons are renting them across the city instead.

It’s understood that these include Makarov, Zoraki and Grand Power pistols — which are stashed in lockups and allotments.

A young girl lays a tribute in Kingsheath Avenue, Knotty Ash, Liverpool, where Olivia Pratt-Korbel was fatally shot

Floral tributes sit aside a soft toy and messages in tribute to Olivia, who was killed on Monday

Thugs across the city are able to order the smuggled and stolen pistols, shotguns and machine guns from hidden locations within ‘a day or two’, it has been reported

It’s understood that Makarov, Zoraki (pictured) and Grand Power pistols are stashed in lockups and allotments and available for thugs to hire 

And shotguns are being sold for around £4,000, after being stolen from farms across Cumbria, Cheshire, Lancashire, Shropshire and Wales, as part of county lines operations.

They can also be hired for £500, the Mirror reported. 

In 2020, Merseyside Police set up a Firearms Investigations Unit, after gun crime reached the highest level in 20 years. 

Rates had been rising since 2015, but the city has seen cases drop slightly in the last two years.

Last year almost 100 weapons, including 36 firearms and more than 800 rounds of ammunition were handed in during a gun amnesty, the Sunday Times reported.

In a short but dramatic video appeal on Twitter, Merseyside Police warned that anyone withholding information must give it up

In the video, Merseyside Police urged for information on the deaths of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, Ashley Dale and Sam Rimmer

As part of their continuing investigation into Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s killing and other recent murders in Liverpool, Merseyside Police again urged the public to come forward and help.

The force also had sniffer dogs at the scene today, as officers continued their search for evidence that will lead them to the little girl’s killer. 

The ‘rummage’ dogs were spotted by a cordoned area outside her Knotty Ash house. 

It is almost a week since Olivia was fatally shot when a gunman chased his intended target, who has been named as convicted burglar Joseph Nee, into her family home in Dovecot, also injuring Olivia’s mother, Cheryl, 46.

In a short but dramatic video appeal on Twitter, Merseyside Police warned that anyone withholding information must give it up.

During the video, a voiceover states: ‘We’ve got parents who’ve lost their children.

‘We’ve got a nine-year-old girl who won’t celebrate her 18th birthday. She won’t celebrate her wedding. She won’t have children of her own.

‘If you’ve got information and you’re withholding it, you’re protecting the killers. We need your information. Provide that information to us and we’ll do the rest.’

In their first statement since Olivia’s death, the family said she was a ‘unique, chatty, nosey girl’ who ‘loved life and all it had to offer’

People lay flowers and read tributes to Olivia that have been placed on Kingsheath Avenue

A tribute from Liverpool Football Club was left in Knotty Ash among other floral displays

Everton Football Club said in a tribute that Olivia is ‘forever in our thoughts’

As well as images of Olivia and flowers at the scene of the shooting, the video also features images of Ashley Dale and Sam Rimmer.

Council worker Ms Dale was fatally shot in Old Swan, Liverpool, on Sunday August 21.

The 28-year-old, who worked in the environmental health team at Knowsley Council, was found fatally wounded in the back garden of a house. It is believed she was not the intended victim.

Sam Rimmer, 22, was shot in Dingle, Liverpool, on Tuesday August 16.

Two men arrested over Olivia’s death were bailed on Saturday.

A 36-year-old man, from Huyton, was recalled to prison after breaching the terms of his licence.

Both he and a 33-year-old man, from Dovecot, were arrested on suspicion of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Merseyside Police appealed for people to come forward with information ‘so we can build up a strong evidential picture and bring those responsible to justice’.

The force has previously released an image of a black Audi Q3, which has been seized and which they believe is the car used to take 35-year-old Nee to hospital.

They are still appealing to anyone who saw the vehicle in the days leading up to the shooting, or has any information about its movements after leaving Kingsheath Avenue last Monday night, to come forward.

Olivia’s death came two weeks after a drive-by shooting that took place less than 500 metres from her front door.

Her death is the third fatal shooting in Liverpool in less than a week, and it comes 48 hours after council worker Ashley Dale was killed

Ashley Dale, 28, was gunned down in her home in Old Swan, Liverpool on Sunday. Police do not believe the two murders are linked 

Sam Rimmer was shot dead last Tuesday, before two men fled the scene on electric bikes

Neighbours suggested that the attack may have been connected to the shooting at the children’s playground on Finch Way on August 8, where gunmen riding a dark-coloured car shot at a man on an electric bike. Nobody has been arrested for the incident.

One resident said he had seen a black Audi following the shooting. He said: ‘I don’t know if it’s the same car that was involved in Olivia’s shooting, I hope it wasn’t, but I reported it to police and it wasn’t followed up. This is heartbreaking, it makes you want to cry.’

In other social media appeals, police have insisted ‘silence is not an option’.

Warning that there is ‘no hiding place for anyone involved in the murder of little Olivia’, they added: ‘We need names.’

Former Liverpool FC player Ian Rush (right) and ex-Everton player Ian Snodin added floral wreaths to the other flowers, balloons and teddies left in Olivia’s memory at the police cordon

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson paid a touching tribute by wearing a t-shirt adorned with the words ‘RIP Olivia YNWA’

Assistant mayor of Liverpool Harry Doyle said people had come forward in the days since the murder because they ‘want to see justice’ for the little girl and her loved ones, and that the arrests have brought ‘a sense of hope and relief’.

Olivia’s family have urged people to ‘do the right thing’, saying that speaking up ‘is not about being a ‘snitch’ or a ‘grass’, it is about finding out who took our baby away from us’.

In a touching tribute, Liverpool FC captain Jordan Henderson wore a top reading ‘RIP Olivia YNWA (You’ll Never Walk Alone)’ for the team’s victory against Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.

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