The father of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel, who was shot dead in her Liverpool home, has spoken publicly for the first time, paying tribute to “a real bright spark … who loved to laugh and make people laugh”.
The death of Olivia “cannot be in vain”, John Francis Pratt said in a statement from him and the wider family released through Merseyside police on Tuesday.
Olivia was shot by a gunman who forced his way into her family home in the Dovecot area of Liverpool on 22 August.
The assailant was chasing a convicted burglar, Joseph Nee, who had burst into the house when Olivia’s mother, Cheryl, opened her front door to see what the commotion outside was.
Olivia’s father said words could not express the pain he and the family were going through.
“Those responsible need to know what they have done,” said Pratt.
“Olivia was a real bright spark who knew her own mind, had no problem making friends (she would talk to anyone) and loved to laugh and make people laugh. She could be a proper wind-up merchant and loved to wind her nieces up, particularly those who were older than her and when they didn’t like it she’d just laugh and say ‘don’t forget I’m your aunty’.
“Olivia’s future has been cruelly snatched away from her and we have been deprived of a real light in our lives.
“We know that there has been an exceptional response to police appeals and we would like to thank those who have come forward.
“At the same time we want to urge others who may have evidence to keep coming forward with information which could help put those responsible for our Olivia’s murder behind bars.”
Pratt said the family had been taken aback by the kindness and support from family, friends and neighbours in the past two weeks.
“We would like to thank them for being there for us. We know that most people on Merseyside are good-hearted and kind just like them and we all need to stand together.
“We don’t want another child to lose their life in such horrendous circumstances and we don’t want to see another family suffer like we are suffering now,” the statement added.
“Olivia’s death cannot be in vain and we want people to feel safe and be safe, that can only happen if we all come together and make sure there is no place for guns, or those who use guns on our streets or in our communities.
“If you have information make sure you tell the police and if you don’t feel able to do that give the information to Crimestoppers anonymously so action can be taken. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it in Olivia’s name and for children across Merseyside who deserve to enjoy their lives to the full.”
The family also released a video of Olivia and her father enjoying a Christmas market in Liverpool city centre, together with new photographs including one of Olivia larking about, wearing an adult’s Jeff Banks designer spectacles.
Four men are being questioned after being arrested at different times on Sunday in connection with the killing.
They include a 34-year-old man from Liverpool, suspected of murder and attempted murder, and men aged 29 and 41, suspected of assisting an offender. Police on Monday night were granted a 36-hour extension to continue questioning.
Detectives also continue to question a man, 34, who was stopped on the M42 near Leamington Spa and arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.
The funeral for Olivia, known as Liv, is due to take place at St Margaret Mary’s, the church associated with her school, in Dovecot, on 15 September. The family have requested mourners to “wear a splash of pink”.