A SADISTIC gunman has today been caged for life for murdering Olivia Pratt-Korbel as the cowardly killer refused to face her mum in court.
The nine-year-old was caught in the cross-fire of a deadly gang war when she was gunned down at her family home in Liverpool.
The youngster had been stood behind her mum Cheryl Korbel when Thomas Cashman, 34, blindly fired through the front door in a botched gang hit.
His bullet missed intended hit Joseph Nee and instead passed through Cheryl's hand into the middle of Olivia's chest.
Only moments earlier, she had run terrified from her bedroom after hearing the commotion, screaming: "Mum, I'm scared".
Cashman was today jailed for life with a minimum of 42 years for the "particularly grave" and "chilling" killing.
Read more on the chilling case
Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s killer has £250K bounty placed on head by gangsters
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Read more on the tragic case:
- Olivia's mum Cheryl sobbed 'she will always be my baby' in an emotional statement
- Cashman will be kept in isolation in prison after a £250k hit was placed on his head
- The killer lied to police when he was arrested in dramatic bodycam footage
- Cashman could be seen fleeing the scene after shooting Olivia
Olivia's mum sobbed as the sentence was handed down while she clutched a pink teddy bear made from her daughter's pyjamas.
The killer had refused to attend his sentencing after his defence claimed he was aware prosecutors sang "We are the Champions" following his conviction.
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Judge Mrs Justice Yip said Olivia's family have "suffered an unimaginable loss", which they must carry for "the rest of their lives".
Describing the horror, she said Cashman knew a "wholly innocent woman was by the door and yet that is where he chose to take aim".
The judge added: "A young child was shot and killed in her own home.
“Olivia was coming downstairs to seek reassurance.
“Cheryl Korbel should have been able to give that reassurance and tuck Olivia back into bed.
“What happened was chilling.
“Shooting into a family home with no regard for who may be court in the crossfire is obviously a very significant aggravating factor.”
In an emotional victim impact statement, Cheryl today spoke of feeling "helpless" and not being able to save her daughter due to her own shooting injury.
She also revealed her "worst nightmare" was "being separated from Liv and not being with her when she needed me the most".
Speaking of her torment following Olivia's death, Cheryl added: "Liv never stopped talking. She would be chatting away. One thing I miss most is hearing her say ‘mum’, I just miss hearing her voice."
“It’s just so quiet. I would do anything to have her chatting to me. It’s so lonely without her. Everything is so quiet. I can’t cope with the silence.
She told how the horror happened at home "where we should have been safe" as she revealed how everything was left as it was when the family were forced to leave.
This included cups of tea sat on the table next to a Princess Trust form where kind Olivia was planning to donate her hair and a doll lying on the floor.
Cheryl, who described the experience as "utter heartbreak", added: "In that moment, I was home. We were back to how our lives were before that night.
"I soaked up the surroundings until reality dawned and brought me back to our living nightmare.”
The mum said Cashman's evil actions have "left the biggest hole in our lives that can never be filled".
She told how her family has been waiting for the trial just "existing day-to-day" and "not addressing how broken we are as a family".
Slamming Cashman, she added: "I cannot get my head around how Cashman continued to shoot after he heard the screams.
"That man set out to do a job, and he didn’t care about anyone else or who got in the way.
“He certainly couldn’t own it either."
The mum continued: "My nine-year-old Liv was the light of our of lives. She was a character, She was my baby. She had amazing qualities and knew what she wanted in life.
“She will never get to wear a prom dress, have a sweet 16th birthday, walk down the aisle or become a mother and have children of her own.
“All that promise for her future, so cruelly taken away. Now I have to drive to the cemetery to be close to my baby daughter.
“I miss her smile, her kisses, her cuddles. She will always be with me, my little shadow.
“We love you endless amounts.”
Olivia's sister Chloe today paid tribute to her "best friend", telling the court how the day Olivia died was the "worst day of my life".
She added: "I felt as though my heart had stopped beating.
“A piece of me left that night and since then I felt as though I'm in a nightmare I cannot wake up from."
Cashman, who has 18 previous convictions, wept last week as he was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and wounding with intent.
Co-defendant Paul Russell, who previously pleaded guilty to assisting an offender, is also being sentenced today.
The horror unfolded on August 22 last year in a "pre-planned and ruthless attack" that "went horribly wrong".
Armed with a pistol and revolver, Cashman "lay in wait" for Nee, 35, to leave a friend's home where he had been watching the Utd v Liverpool game.
The convicted burglar was shot at on the street before he barged his way into Olivia's home injured and covered in blood.
Cashman then fired two shots into the house as Olivia "strayed into line of fire'" while "seeking comfort" from her mum.
Cheryl told how her daughter "went all floppy" and her eyes went to the back of her head before she said something like sounded like "mum".
The mum-of-three said she yelled out at her son Ryan to help get Olivia up the stairs as she was trying to stem the blood coming from her own wound.
It was then Cheryl realised the youngster had been hit in the middle of the chest as she desperately "gasped for breath".
Cheryl's heartbreaking evidence reduced the courtroom to tears as she told police: "There was just screaming. I heard the gunshot. I realised, because it hit my hand.
"I heard the baby screaming and that's when I turned round and spotted her sitting at the bottom of the stairs.
"I just huddled over her. I lifted her top. That's when I realised she'd been shot in the chest."
As her little girl slipped away in her arms, Cheryl shouted out : "Please Liv, stay with me."
Sobbing in her police interview, she told officers a neighbour came in to start performing CPR but she "knew she'd gone".
Tragically, Olivia couldn't be saved and died in hospital later that night.
Her brother Ryan also told how he heard Olivia run across the landing, saying "I'm scared mummy, I'm scared" as Nee was targeted outside the home.
He said he rushed out of his bedroom to find a Nee lying in the hall and his mum "wrestling" with the door.
As it burst open, Ryan said an arm came round wielding a black handgun as up to two more shots rang out.
In a cruel twist, as the youngster's family begged Olivia to stay alive in the blood-stained home, Nee stumbled outside and was picked up by five men in a black car after making a call.
Cashman meanwhile was captured on CCTV fleeing the scene as medics battled to save Olivia.
He changed his clothes and told his former lover, who became a key witness in the case, that he had "done Joey".
Dramatic bodycam footage showed Cashman telling cops "you're stitching me up" as he was arrested.
The brute continued his shameless lies in court where he wept as he claimed he wasn't behind the brutal killing.
He told jurors: "I'm getting blamed for killing a child and I have got my own children.
"I'm a dad, I'm not a killer, I'm a dad.
"I'm getting blamed for something I haven't done."
The "high-level cannabis dealer" said he was smoking a spliff at the time of the shooting and counting around £10,000 in cash with a pal.
Cashman also claimed the woman who said she heard him confess was "trying to ruin his life" because he won't leave his partner for her.
He said her boyfriend owed him a £25,000 drug debt so she wanted him "out of the way".
But the court was told Cashman was just trying "pull the wool" over the eyes of jurors.
How the horror shooting unfolded
2pm – Joseph Nee, the intended target of the shooting, arrives at the house of Timothy Naylor in Finch Lane in Dovecot, Liverpool. He is driving a Volkswagen Transporter van.
3pm – Thomas Cashman leaves his home as he "scopes out" Nee
3.17pm – Cashman leaves his sister's house and drives past Dovecot Labour Club, with a view of Nee's van on Finch Lane.
3.32pm – Nee leaves Finch Lane to go to Screwfix. Cashman arrives back at his sister's house and leaves two minutes later on foot.
3.56pm – Cashman, with his hood up, arrives on foot at the corner of Berryford Road and looks in the direction of Mr Naylor's house in Finch Lane before turning around. Nee's van is no longer parked outside. The prosecution alleged Cashman intended to shoot Nee, but was "thwarted" because he was no longer there.
4.05pm – Cashman arrives back at his sister's house where he stays for four minutes before driving away in his Citroen Berlingo to Finch Lane and stopping at his brother Kevin Dunne's house, where he would have a view of Mr Naylor's property.
4.46pm – Cashman leaves his brother's house and drives along Finch Lane into Kingsheath Avenue.
5.15pm – Cashman drives past Finch Lane again.
5.20pm – He arrives back at home on Grenadier Drive. In the two hours and 20 minutes since he left home he has been past Timothy Naylor's address on six occasions.
6.42pm – Cashman leaves Grenadier Drive.
7.03pm – He drives into Finch Road, with a view of Finch Lane, before driving around and returning to Finch Lane and his brother's address where he stops for six minutes.
7.16pm – Cashman drives along Finch Lane.
7.23pm – Cashman drives along Finch Lane again. Nee's van has not been outside Mr Naylor's home since earlier in the afternoon. Cashman drives home.
7.53pm – Nee arrives back at Mr Naylor's house ahead of the football match between Liverpool and Manchester United, which kicks off at 8pm.
8.04pm – Cashman leaves his home and again drives to Finch Lane. He then drives to Snowberry Road, where his friends Craig Byrne and Nicky McHale live, and returns to Finch Lane. Nee's van would have been visible on both these occasions.
8.22pm – Cashman arrives home where he stays for eight minutes before leaving again, driving along Finch Lane, where he would have been able to see Nee's van, and then driving to his sister's house on Mab Lane.
8.59pm – Cashman leaves his sister's house, dressed in black, and drives to Aspes Road, where he parks his van.
9pm – Cashman walks along Finch Lane in the direction of Yew Tree Cemetery.
9.21pm – CCTV shows Cashman walking along Finch Lane in the direction of Kingsheath Avenue, where he would lie in wait for Nee armed with two weapons.
9.52pm – The Liverpool vs Manchester United football match ends. Nee leaves Mr Naylor's house shortly afterwards.
9.59pm – CCTV footage shows Nee and Paul Abraham being chased up Kingsheath Avenue by the gunman, who fires three shots in the street. Cheryl Korbel opens her front door to see what the noise is and Nee runs towards it with Cashman in pursuit. Two more shots are fired, one of which goes through the front door, hitting Ms Korbel in the wrist and striking Olivia in the chest.
10pm – A 999 call is made.
10.02pm – Cashman is seen back in Finch Lane, running across the road to Berryford Road. He is seen in Standedge Way and from there is believed to have run through gardens to flee the scene.
10.11pm – Two armed officers arrive at the scene and take Olivia to Alder Hey Children's Hospital.
10.47pm – Cashman, who fled to the house of an unnamed woman, is driven back to his van in Aspes Road by Paul Russell.
11.24pm – Olivia is pronounced dead at Alder Hey Children's Hospital.
David McLachlan KC, prosecuting, said it 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."
The tragedy was the third fatal shooting in Liverpool in less than a week after a council worker was killed just two days before.
Ashley Dale, 28, was shot dead just two miles away in her back garden in Old Swan in a case of mistaken identity.
In a separate bloodbath, Sam Rimmer, 22, was shot dead in Toxteth.
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Olivia's death also came 15 years to the day that 11-year-old Rhys Jones was brutally murdered.
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