Olivia Pratt-Korbel mother backs calls for change in law for 'cowardly' killers

  • Olivia's mum Cheryl spoke to ITV Granada Reports with family members Kim Alcock and Antonia Elverson.

The mother of a schoolgirl murdered by a drug dealer says she wanted him to understand the pain they were going to when he refused to appear in court to listen to the family's impact statement.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel died in August 2022 after Thomas Cashman opened fire when he chased another man into her home in Dovecot, Liverpool.

He was jailed for a minimum of 42 years after being found guilty of murder after a trial at Manchester Crown Court - but refused to come to the dock for his sentencing.

Olivia's mum Cheryl, who was also injured in the shooting said the sentencing hearing was the opportunity for her and the rest of the family to have a voice, and to see if he had "any remorse".

Olivia's family have released a new photo of her at her 9th birthday party, the last birthday she would see Credit: Family photo

"I think I wanted to see if there was any remorse there, to see if he was taking any accountability for it, but I never got that chance," Cheryl said.

"He's a coward.

"Right through the trial, even when he was in the dock, there was a blind down constantly.

"He couldn't see me or any of the family. I wanted to address him. I think that's why he never came up, because he would have been able to see me."

She added: "I wanted him to understand the pain that he's caused, the pain that we went through and the pain we are still going through."

Cheryl spoke to ITV Granada Reports with family members Kim Alcock and Antonia Elverson.

Kim said: "We do not want another family to go through what we did.

"It feels a little like we haven't got full closure because he hasn't heard how he's impacted our whole family, taking our baby away from us.

"It might not have been intentional but he's done it and we now need the law changed for no-one else to go through this, for other families to get that closure that we didn't get."

Cheryl and her family are backing the 'Face the Family' campaign calling for new legal powers that force offenders to appear in court to hear their sentences.

Olivia with her family Credit: Family photo

An online petition has been launched which says: "Families are currently being deprived the opportunity of gaining full closure because offenders can choose not to appear in court for sentencing.

"We want the law to require offenders to be in court for sentencing, to give victims and their families every chance to witness justice be delivered.

"We want prison and court staff to be given powers to use reasonable force to get offenders into the dock - as they do to transfer them from a court to prison."

The petition needs 100,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament Credit: Government petitions

In June Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the Government was committed to bringing forward legislation to enable offenders to be compelled to attend their sentencing hearings.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also said the commitment, made by Mr Chalk's predecessor Dominic Raab, remains "in place", but has not said whether the legislation will be introduced before the next general election, expected in 2024.

The killers of Zara Aleena and Sabina Nessa were also sentenced in their absence after they refused to attend sentencing hearings.

Sex attacker Jordan McSweeney murdered 35-year-old law graduate Ms Aleena as she walked home in Ilford, east London, and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 38 years.

Koci Selamaj received life with at least 36 years for murdering primary school teacher Ms Nessa after travelling to London to carry out an attack on a random woman.

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