Will the key to Olivia’s murder be found at West Derby Golf Course?
Scrambler bikes, drones and diving squads have been called upon – plus the rest of your weekly briefing
Dear readers — since the tragic killing of Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Dovecot three weeks ago today, updates on the case have been a frequent feature of our briefings. A series of arrests have been made in that time, with some of those arrested since bailed, but crucially the murder weapons have thus far proved elusive. This morning, police arrived en masse at West Derby Golf Club where they believe they might find two guns used in the attack.
In our weekend read Mollie spoke to the Liverpudlians mourning the death of the Queen. The piece considered some of the preconceptions we have about the relationship between monarchism and Liverpool. “Roll on the republic,” read one comment under the piece, while another expressed frustration that sacrifices made during the mourning period were not equal: “Strikes were called off out of respect. The stock exchange was operating normally,” it said. Others disagreed, noting that the royals “have proved themselves to be better ambassadors than the country's official ambassadors over the years”.
Last week we sent out two great stories to our paying members. On Tuesday we published a piece by Jack and Sophie about Hope City, a Liverpool church accused of mistreating its worshipers. Richard Turner — an autistic man who now mentors people looking to leave cults — told us the story, recounting the bizarre surveillance of his relationship with an ex-partner.
Then on Thursday Mollie wrote about Damien John Kelly House, an abstinence-based recovery home in Wavertree that houses 17 men. A film has been made about the home documenting the inhabitants as they move beyond their addictions. “Recovery is a fucking beautiful thing,” one of the men says.
If you know someone who you think would enjoy the work we produce, do consider sending on this email and spreading the word about The Post. The larger we become, the easier it’ll be to dedicate ample resources to time-consuming, investigative projects so they can have the depth and attention to detail they deserve.
This week’s weather
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from the Met Office and it’s for Liverpool.
The big story: Will the key to Olivia’s murder be found at West Derby Golf Course?
Top line: Merseyside Police have descended upon West Derby Golf Course in a search for the weapons used by nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s killer. In video footage released this morning by the force, two officers meticulously trawl their way through a murky brook. The officers are acting on information received during their investigations, according to a statement by Sergeant Gary Sorrell.
Two guns: At a press conference two weeks ago, DCS Mark Kameen of Merseyside Police confirmed that analysis by forensic experts and the National Ballistic Intelligence Service had indicated that “two guns were used during [the] attack”. Addressing the public directly, he said:
“You may have been told to hide them or dispose of them — I understand you may be frightened of contacting us, but I want you to do the right thing for Olivia.”
The Matrix Team, Merseyside Police’s special “disruption unit” that have been leading the county’s fight against organised crime, are present at the course. The team are trained to deal with “disorder situations” but also have specialist search teams that they can deploy during incidents such as this.
Wide-scale search: Alongside Matrix, the day’s operations are being carried out with North West Police Underwater Divers. Police drones are also being used to search the wider "area bounded by Grenadier Drive along Aspes Road down to Yew Tree Road including the brook,” according to Sorrell. Officers are also searching surrounding woodland with the aid of a police dog and others have been seen riding scrambler bikes across the course.
Arrests made: Nine arrests in total have now been made by police as the hunt continues for Olivia’s killer. The latest — of a 37-year-old man from West Derby on suspicion of assisting an offender — was made yesterday, with the suspect now being questioned.
Police are continuing to appeal to the public for new evidence though as they attempt to “build up a strong evidential picture” and several previous suspects have been released on bail, including a man who was arrested on suspicion of the murder two weeks ago.
Last week Olivia’s father John Francis Pratt spoke out for the first time, calling his daughter a “real bright spark who knew her own mind”. He said: “Words can't express the pain we are going through after Olivia was so cruelly snatched away from us.” Olivia’s mother, Cheryl Korbel, whose wrist was struck by a stray bullet during the attack, addressed her daughter’s killer in a video statement, with her arm still bandaged. She said:
“You know you’ve done wrong, so you need to own up. Like I taught my kids, you do something wrong, you own up to it.”
Your Post briefing
👑 Tributes to the Queen from leading figures across Merseyside have been coming in over the weekend. Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram recounted a story on Twitter of when he welcomed the Queen to Liverpool during the city’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. As they ate lunch in St George’s Hall he says he saw a side to the Queen few saw. “It's safe to say that she was a fan of the Scouse sense of humour as, at times, she was in fits of laughter — so much so that she had to retrieve a handkerchief from her handbag to dab away the tears rolling down her face,” he said. Elsewhere Roy Gladden, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, described her "genuine warmth and sincerity” when she visited in 2016 and Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson called it a “very sad day in history”.
🏞️ Planit-IE, an Altrincham-based landscape architecture firm, have put forward their New York-style plans for Liverpool’s “Central Park”. The park falls within the broader £5 billion Liverpool Waters development being constructed by Peel L&P and would include the planting of over 1,000 trees, shelter and canopy areas and support for local wildlife. There would also be a more than 5,000 sq ft children’s play area, a 3,600 sq ft community garden, wetland and coastal woodland planting. It would be 4.7 acres large in total.
⚽️ Was the cancellation of football matches across the country at the weekend partly motivated by fears about how Liverpool fans would act during tributes? According to Daily Mail sports reporter Matt Hughes, “concern that tributes to the Queen may not have been universally respected,” which would have caused “global embarrassment” was a factor in calling off the matches. Whilst his piece doesn’t mention any team specifically, it does say that “some English clubs with politicised elements” of their fan base were in mind when the call was made. This disproves the theory that matches were postponed purely out of fears of how certain Irish teams would respond, after Shamrock Rovers were condemned by the Football Association of Ireland for singing “callous” chants mocking the Queen.
🍺 Liverpool’s publicans are banding together to fight the harsh upcoming winter with an all-weekend piss-up later this month. Costs in hospitality have spiked, especially with soaring energy bills, and even with government support announced last week by Liz Truss, the threat of closures is looming large over the industry. Between 23 to 25 September a “Beer Quarter” comprised of independent boozers in and around Dale Street will form for a weekend of events including live music, comedy, pub games, beer tastings, “meet the brewer” and special food offerings.
Home of the week
This two bedroom property near Wavertree used to be a coach house, an outbuilding where a coach or carriage would be stored. It’s been fully renovated and now has a beautiful courtyard and a brick fireplace. It’s on the market for £280,000.
📚 Liverpool Central Library may not be the most instinctive location for an evening of Latin American dance, but that’s where arts organisation Luma Creations is heading this Saturday, promising a night filled with colour and music. Tickets start at £8, and you’ll see performances from dancers from Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru.
🍜 Wirral Soup, a non profit event that gives you the chance to learn about inspiring projects in the region and donate towards their success, makes its debut at Future Yard this Thursday evening. It’s an uplifting event filled with great speakers and warming bowls of soup. Starts 6.30pm.
🗣️ Ronnie Hughes, the author behind A Sense of Place known for his flaneur-style essays about walking through the city, will be speaking at The Quest for Utopia at the Athenaeum on Thursday evening, which will discuss the possibilities of building better societies. Tickets here.
📸 A photography display by people working in the care sector and artwork by people experiencing dementia pops up in Open Eye Gallery on Thursday, as part of an exhibition exploring resilience and the way we navigate challenging times. The participants, who would have otherwise been alone during lockdown, described the project as an antidote to isolation. More here.
🎶 Up Next Festival selects the most promising new talent on Merseyside for a weekend of live performances at Unity Theatre. Only 11 artists have been selected, who have created plays, exhibitions and music for your pleasure. Each show is £8, or a festival pass is £25. Book here.
📖 A book of condolence is available to sign in Liverpool Town Hall for those who would like to pay tribute to the Queen. Elsewhere, Bootle Town Hall, the Atkinson in Southport, Knowsley’s libraries and the small field opposite the Cenotaph at St Nicholas’s Church in Halewood are open for condolences and remembrance. Find more here.
Our favourite reads
“Zip-lining, trust exercises and ‘jumping off things’” at Snowdonia National Park have been among the methods deployed for team building by new Everton Women’s coach Brian Sorensen, as the team enter a new season in high spirits after disappointment last time round, when they finished only nine points above the relegation zone. This piece in The Telegraph explores Sorensen’s unique approach to the game, and the action-packed pre-season his team have embarked upon. “Now, it's the honeymoon days, everybody's happy and feeling good. If we lose the first three games, it's probably a different story,” said a self-aware Sorensen.
Rachel Collett, a local writer and curator, fixes her gaze on documentary photographer Chris Killip for this long read in Tribune Magazine, which captures the extraordinary detail in his depictions of ordinary life. These quotidian photos, according to Collett, show us everyday life after the destruction of mining and fishing communities in the North. Pushing back against the idea they could be seen as “bleak”, Collett insists instead that the photos are “a truthful snapshot of the lives of his subjects — of working-class people struggling to survive the painful process of deindustrialisation — without reducing them to empty political metaphors.”
Martin Parr, the street photographer best known for capturing summertime on the Wirral, discusses his photos of Brits abroad in Benidorm in this feature for AnOther Magazine. The photos, which are often discussed as a portrayal of working-class leisure, weren’t intended as a commentary on class, according to Parr, who was more interested in capturing what people are like when they release their inhibitions.
This fascinating 2018 piece by The Guardian tells the story of Mill View Tower, a “grey, postwar, former council-owned block of flats which rises above Toxteth,” and how a building originally designed to allow the council to house low-income tenants became a magnet for an international class of investors with their eyes on hefty profits. When austerity hit the council had sold the block off to investors from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Australia, but conditions then worsened to the point that the block had more prosecutions under the Housing Act than any other building in 2017. Heating was so poor it was a threat to the tenants’ health.
Photo of the week
Queen Elizabeth II takes a ride on the Yellow Duck and amphibious vehicle during a visit to Merseyside Maritime Museum in 2012. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.
Letters from readers
Speaking from a neutral position, I like to point out that, like all the other long-established continuous monarchies, the Royal family of the United Kingdom is a valuable cultural asset of the nation that has evolved with time and has been greatly enhanced by this country's connections made with places around the world during its colonial days whether we like the way those connections were made or not. It has grown beyond politics and because of it, its members have proved themselves to be better ambassadors than the country's official ambassadors over the years. (‘There was Emmeline Pankhurst, there was my nana and there was the Queen’), Rennie Ku
Wow, as someone brought up a catholic, but no longer practices, the fact that a church like this exists in Liverpool is a surprise to me. What a dreadful experience for those who sought this out as a place of peace and rescue only to realise it was anything but. I can remember as a child there seemed to be only two religions in Liverpool Catholic or Protestant. As faith is lost the likes of these snake oil preachers get a foothold. Luckily even though I may not attend church I’m pretty sure the kindness and love instilled in me by my two extremely faithful parents set me on the right path in life. (‘When a church takes control of your life’), Carolyn Thornton