Two men jailed for murdering Ashley Dale named in Olivia trial

Revealed: Two men jailed for murdering Ashley Dale were named in trial of Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s killer as rival gangsters who could have been involved in deadly feud that ended in the schoolgirl’s shooting

Less than 48 hours after Ashley Dale was gunned down in the back garden of her home, Liverpool was again reeling in horror as nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel was shot dead as she tried to cower behind her mother.

The tragedies were part of a horrific wave of gun crime in the city which also saw 22-year-old Sam Rimmer killed in the same week as Olivia and Ms Dale, and beautician Elle Edwards fatally injured outside a pub on Christmas Eve.

It can now be revealed that two of those jailed for life for murdering Ms Dale – plus her gangster boyfriend, Lee Harrison – were named during the trial of Olivia’s killer, Thomas Cashman, as being allegedly involved in a deadly feud that culminated in the schoolgirl’s shooting.

Suspected gangland enforcer Cashman – now serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 42 years for the shocking murder of Olivia – had been trying to execute fellow career criminal Joseph Nee, only for the attack to go ‘horribly wrong’, his trial heard.

Bleeding from a bullet wound after being shot in the midriff, Nee tried to flee into Olivia’s nearby house after her mother Cheryl went outside to see what the noise was.

Sean Zeisz and Niall Barry were named as potential suspects in the murder of Olivia Pratt-Korbel 

Ashley Dale’s gangster boyfriend, Lee Harrison, was also named in the trial of Thomas Cashman (right)

Olivia was shot dead by Cashman after he broke into her home while hunting fellow career criminal Joseph Nee 

Now wielding a revolver after his first weapon jammed, Cashman chased Nee as Mrs Korbel desperately tried to close the front door.

Unbeknown to Mrs Korbel, her frightened daughter had got out of bed and come downstairs, just as Cashman – his target cornered – fired another shot.

It missed Nee and slammed right through the door, into Mrs Korbel’s hand and – horrifically – straight at Olivia’s chest, causing fatal injuries.

Nee survived, giving detectives a string of names for those who might have a grudge against him – among them Niall Barry, who may have blamed him for his arrest after Ms Dale’s shooting, he said.

Cashman’s trial also heard that intelligence gathered after Olivia’s shooting had suggested that Barry and Sean Zeisz may have threatened one of Nee’s brothers.

Joseph Nee was also said to have been at odds with the Hillsiders organised crime group, with which the trial of Ms Dale’s killers heard her boyfriend Lee Harrison and his rapper friend Jordan Thompson was affiliated.

A family photo of Ashley Dale with her dachshund Darla

Barry being arrested for organising the murder of Ms Dale at her home in Old Swan, Liverpool 

At his trial, Cashman’s barrister tried to have the intelligence material put before the jury.

In a hearing from which the Press were excluded, John Cooper KC argued that the jury had been left with the false impression that there were ‘no other viable alternative suspects’, according to a ruling made by trial judge Mrs Justice Yip.

He highlighted how Nee had ‘generally made enemies’ and had been shot at twice before.

Nee’s account to police of who might have wanted him dead varied over time, with the finger at one stage pointed at convicted armed robber Lee Hickman.

READ MORE – The three fatal shootings in a week which rocked Liverpool: How Ashley Dale was gunned down a day before Olivia Pratt Korbell

Cashman’s trial heard that police were aware of an alleged ‘feud’ between the Hickman and Nee families.

But the judge branded Nee’s account ‘vague and speculative’ and ruled it inadmissible.

She said putting the other names before the jury based on ‘unsubstantiated intelligence’ would be seen as an attempt by Cashman’s defence team to ‘muddy the water’.

The alleged involvement of Barry and Zeisz – and the claims of a rivalry between Nee and Harrison’s group – could not be reported until the trio had stood trial for the murder of Ms Dale.

For their part, the prosecution said police had eliminated Barry and Zeisz – who at that stage was still on the run – as being the gunman, along with Hickman, now 36, and his three brothers.

In the event, jurors took just nine hours to convict Cashman of murdering Olivia.

Her shooting was just one of 49 ‘reckless’ firearm discharges in the Liverpool city region over the course of 2022.

As with the schoolgirl, neither Ms Dale nor Ms Edwards was the intended target of their killer.

The two women were both shot using Czech-manufactured Skorpion machine pistols capable of discharging 850 rounds a minute, as were Mr Rimmer, whose killing remains unsolved.

Ms Dale was shot in the back garden of her home in Old Swan, Liverpool (pictured) 

These fearsome weapons have been involved in eight shootings in the space of two years in Merseyside alone.

Bought legally in European countries, blank-firing or deactivated weapons can be smuggled across the Channel before being converted into firing live rounds in illicit back-street gun factories.

While detectives will not speak publicly on whether the spate of gun murders which blighted Merseyside in 2022 are linked, they admit their success in tackling organised crime may have created a ‘vacuum’ which led to renewed ‘fall-outs’.

More than 100 criminals from the area have been locked up for more than 1,000 years as a result of the hacking of the Encrochat messaging service in 2020.

After Olivia’s death became the third fatal shooting in Merseyside in the space of seven days, Merseyside Police was awarded £350,000 by the Home Office for a pilot to tackle criminal gangs.

Called Clear, Hold, Build, the initiative is intended to help law-abiding communities stop a new gang moving in when the previous one is ‘obliterated’.

In its first three months, the programme led to 420 arrests, with 11 firearms and 90 vehicles seized.

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