Thomas Cashman is attempting to appeal his conviction for the murder of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, it has been revealed.
Cashman, 35, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 42 years in prison after a trial at Manchester Crown Court in March this year. Olivia, nine, died on August 22 last year after Cashman fired a bullet through the front door of her family home in Kingsheath Avenue, Dovecot, shortly after 10pm.
The bullet hit her mum, Cheryl Korbel, in the wrist before striking the St Margaret Mary's Primary School pupil in the chest, causing catastrophic injuries. Cashman, formerly of Grenadier Drive in West Derby, had been attempting to kill convicted drug dealer Joseph Nee, now 36, before the hit went disastrously wrong.
Today John Cooper, KC, representing Cashman, renewed an application to appeal his client's sentence after an initial written application was rejected by a single appeal court judge. In oral arguments at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, watched over video-link by Olivia's family, Mr Cooper argued that trial judge, Mrs Justice Yip, had imposed too high a minimum term.
The application was refused with presiding judge, Dame Victoria Sharp, concluding that: "The length of the sentence reflects the terribleness of his crimes rather than any error on the part of the judge."
However the court clerk confirmed that an application to appeal his conviction and over-turn the guilty verdicts was lodged in July this year by Cashman's legal team. That written application will be reviewed by a single judge, who could either reject it on the papers or order a full appeal hearing. A date has not yet been set.
In the Court of Appeal today, Mr Cooper argued that trial judge Mrs Justice Yip has handed down too high a minimum term.
He said: "In particular the emphasis on planning and surveillance was a relevant factor to take into account, of course it was, but too much emphasis was placed onto it for its sophistication.”
Mr Cooper also suggested the judge's assertion that Cashman "lacked remorse" was wrongly used to increase the years he will spend behind bars. He said: "The tragic death of Olivia Pratt-Korbel was not intended and there was nothing we submit in the behaviour of this applicant to suggest that he had lack of remorse in relation to her death."
He added: "He did not know this child was standing at the bottom of the stairs when he did the appalling act of firing that gun through the front door."
Mr Cooper referred the bench to recent High Court decisions, suggesting the age of a defendant when they are eventually eligible for release should also be taken into consideration as mitigation. He reminded the court that Cashman "will be in his seventies" when he can apply to be released on licence.
Dame Sharp, President of the King’s Bench Division, rejected the renewed application along with her colleagues Mrs Justice McGowan and Mr Justice Chamberlain. She said Justice Yip was entitled to take into account the aggravating factors, including the wounds to Nee, Cheryl Korbel and the firearms offences.
Dame Sharp told the court: “This is what the judge did, she had heard the evidence during the trial, her sentencing remarks were immaculately structured and eloquently encapsulated the aggravating and other factors present."
She said the evidence suggested Cashman's surveillance of the scene and efforts to source two guns went "well beyond premeditation".
The court heard Cashman had opened fire on Nee on the street outside with a Glock 9mm self-loading handgun. CCTV showed how Nee fell to the ground and Cashman stood over him, seemingly moments away from completing his grim mission.
However the Glock appeared to malfunction and Nee was able to scramble to his feet and run. Tragically Cheryl, alarmed by the loud noises, had opened her door and stepped outside. Nee saw the opportunity to escape and barged inside as the screaming Cheryl tried to keep Nee out.
Olivia, frightened by the commotion, had jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to hide behind her mum, uttering her last words: "Mum, I'm scared".
She added: "It cannot sensibly be argued that overall sentence imposed was excessive, let alone manifestly excessive….
"The sentence imposed by the judge was a long one, it means the applicant will be well into his seventies before being considered for his release..
“The length of the sentence reflects the terribleness of his crimes rather than any error on the part of the judge. There were no mitigating factors, there was no remorse. Permission to appeal is refused."