Crimestoppers are offering £200,000 for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the murder of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Liverpool.
The money is the biggest single reward offer in the charity’s history, a police battle to identify the shooter who killed the primary schoolgirl and shot her mother a month ago.
Olivia died after being shot in her home when a gunman chased convicted burglar Joseph Nee into the property around 10 p.m. A post-mortem examination revealed that the medical cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest.
Police have arrested nine people in connection with the attack but, so far, no one has been charged with Olivia’s murder as detectives say anyone withholding information in case ‘protects the killers’ amid a code of silence within the gangs of Liverpool.
Last week, Crimestoppers founder Lord Ashcroft offered £50,000 which he has now doubled to match £100,000 from a new public-minded private donor for a total of £200,000.
Lord Ashcroft said: “This case has been incredibly shocking, not just for those directly affected, but for Liverpool and the nation as a whole.
“I am delighted that with the support of a private donor, Crimestoppers can now offer a record £200,000 for information leading to the catch of Olivia’s killer.”
Nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel died on Monday August 22 when a gunman broke into her home in Liverpool while he was chasing Joseph Nee, 35.
The beautifully decorated coffin arrives at the church is a horse-drawn carriage as a large congregation of mourners waits outside
Olivia’s coffin is led out of the church followed by her mother Cheryl Korbel, ahead of a private burial and revival last week
In a eulogy, Olivia’s mother Cheryl Korbel (pictured holding a pink teddy bear) said: ‘Liv touched the hearts of so many and was loved and adored by all. She will never be forgotten’
Merseyside Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen has appealed for patience as the force investigates the murder of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel.
Nine people have been arrested so far but all have been released under investigation.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, he said: “I recognize that people will wonder and wonder why no one has been charged despite these arrests.
“While I can assure you that this is normal practice in any complex investigation, the threshold to arrest someone is much lower than to charge someone. Please be patient with us. The investigation progress.
“The detectives involved in bringing justice for Olivia and her family are working tirelessly with genuine care and passion toward the goal of securing these charges against everyone involved in her murder. No matter how small their role.”
Investigative officers worked more than 15,000 hours, scanned thousands of hours of CCTV and investigated more than 400 pieces of information submitted by the public.
Last week, Olivia’s mother, Cheryl Korbel, 46, addressed a crowd of mourners at St Mary Margaret’s Church in Knotty Ash, Liverpool, a short distance from where the nine-year-old girl was shot dead in her own home just over three weeks ago.
Hundreds of people, many wearing a ‘touch of pink’ at the behest of Olivia’s family, lined the streets as the youngster’s coffin was brought to the church by a white horse-drawn carriage horses.
Olivia was shot in the chest when a gunman, who was pursuing a convicted burglar and drug dealer, burst into her home, shooting indiscriminately.
Ms Korbel was hit in the wrist as she desperately tried to close her front door, but the bullet also hit her daughter who was standing behind her. The youngster was rushed to hospital but could not be saved. Neither the shooter nor his target had ties to Olivia’s family.
Dressed in a black jacket with a pink ribbon, Ms Korbel told the congregation that Olivia, known to family and friends as Liv, was born six weeks earlier and spent nine days in a unit special for babies.
“She was so small, but even as a newborn she had a mind of her own,” Ms Korbel said.
She described Olivia’s “cheeky smile” and how she loved animals and singing and dancing.
The mother-of-three added: ‘Olivia was very talkative and bubbly and spoke for England, to the point where we thought she had Duracell batteries in her somewhere.’
“She would have made an excellent lawyer because she had the answer to everything.” At the end of the eulogy, Ms Korbel said: ‘Liv touched the hearts of so many and was loved and adored by all.
‘She will never be forgotten.
“I will never say goodbye but what I will say is good night, I love you, see you tomorrow morning.”
A eulogy for Olivia’s father, John Francis Pratt, was read by the parish priest, Father Roy Cooper.
He described ‘our own little diva’ and said Olivia was kind, caring and helpful.
Olivia’s sister, Chloe, also gave a reading during the hour-long service.
Olivia’s white coffin, with butterflies painted on the side, was topped with lilies. Floral unicorn and teddy bear tributes were placed alongside her in the carriage.
Rebecca Wilkinson, Olivia’s principal at St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School, which is next to the church, attended the funeral.
Students decorated the school’s railings with pink ribbons, while Olivia’s name was spelled out in pink hearts in the windows.
Her classmates also painted their nails pink in her memory and watched her favorite movie, Matilda, instead of taking classes.
In his homily, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon said Olivia was a “gift to her family and all who knew her”.
He said he believed ‘Olivia’s untimely death will lead to a community here in Liverpool free of violence, that it will become a place of peace and justice’. Amazing Grace was sung as Olivia’s casket was taken out of the church.
His family embraced and wiped away tears as mourners cheered as the motorcade left for a private family funeral.
- People can contact Crimestoppers anonymously through its website or on 0800 555 111.