When I wrote a feature two years ago about the August 2007 killing of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Croxteth, Liverpool nobody could never have imagined that history would repeat itself on exactly the same day fifteen years later. On the evening of the 22nd August 2022 Joseph Nee, a convicted thief and drug dealer burst into the property of Cheryl Korbel in Dovecot, Liverpool. Nee was fleeing from a gunman, he was literally running for his life. As a shocked Cheryl Korbel struggled with Nee in the front doorway of her property the gunman who was chasing Nee fired four shots. One bullet penetrated Cheryl Korbel’s wrist, then exited and struck her daughter who was standing behind her. Olivia Pratt-Korbel just 9 years old was hit in the chest. She later died in hospital. The gunman fled the scene but was traced and arrested along with others who tried to help him escape. Olivia’s address is just a couple of miles south of where Rhys Jones was murdered.

Thomas Cashman, a known criminal was later arrested for murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms. He was convicted for murder in March 2023. Two handguns were traced at being present at the scene, a 9mm semi-auto and a .38 revolver.

Shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve 2022 a gunman approached the entrance of the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey Village on Merseyside and opened fire into the crowded establishment. Shots hit five people, four were injured, one critically. The fifth victim was a 26 year old young woman, Elle Edwards. She died shortly afterwards in hospital. People in the vicinity thought that the gunshots were celebratory fireworks. Merseyside Police from the onset did not believe that Elle was the target; she was indeed the random victim of yet another indiscriminate poorly executed attack by another soulless monster.

Sam Rimmer, 22, was with a group of friends on Lavrock Bank in the Dingle area of Liverpool on the 16th August 2022. Shots were fired at them and Sam was hit in the upper torso and died from his injuries. Two of the suspects were seen on CCTV footage riding electric bikes. Just days later in the early hours of the 21st August a young lady, Ashley Dale, 28, was shot in her own back garden after the door to her property was forced. She lived in Leinster Road in the Old Swan district of Liverpool. Again the authorities believe she was not the intended target and numerous arrests have been made.

These perpetrators join the ranks of the wretched soulless gunscum who choose to use firearms to harvest their needs but have neither the skill or focus to confine their hideous actions. In their hands they hold what becomes an indiscriminate tool over which they have absolutely no control. Since the invention of firearms countless innocent people have died at the hands of this blind form of evil. 

On Sunday 17th May 2020 Aya Hachem, a 19-year-old university student was shot dead as she walked to meet her father in shops in Blackburn, Lancashire. She was caught in the indiscriminate act of armed criminals firing a gun at a tyre and car wash centre in an act of intimidation. This car, full of feckless lunatics had stopped in front of this establishment in broad daylight and started firing. Aya was hit in the fusillade of fire and died at the scene. Three men all in their 30’s were all arrested.

Aya Hachem’s death was ironically a week before ITV re-ran the 2017 heart-breaking documentary drama about the shooting murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Croxteth, Liverpool on the 22nd August 2007. This was Little Boy Blue. The Channel 5 documentary Rhys Jones – The Death of an Innocent featured in March 2021. The perpetrator in this murder was 16-year-old Sean Mercer who was trying to attack rival gang members who had wandered onto his ‘patch’. 

Mercer and his gang associates were a dysfunctional band of feral half-wits, a discarded tribe of drug fuelled petty criminals and bullies parented by adult versions of themselves.

Mercer had armed himself with an old .455 Smith & Wesson revolver. Its age was nothing to do with its functionality, it was simply neglected and in poor condition. The handgun had been illegally procured along with ammunition of the wrong calibre. Whilst the ammunition could be fired the ill-fitting bullets failed to engage the rifling grooves in the worn barrel and as a result started to tumble as they exited the muzzle. Mercer was too stupid to appreciate this, as far as he was concerned the gun fired and a bullet came out. This factor actually held up the investigation because the initial study of the wounds inflicted on Rhys Jones influenced the police to believe it was not caused by this weapon which was quickly seized after the killing. Police forensic investigators thought the keyhole shaped wound in Rhys’s back was an exit wound, (caused by a bullet tumbling through his body from an entry wound in his neck). It was in fact the other way around.

Mercer had set himself up to fire at opposing gang members across a pub car park. The first shot hit a car window. The second shot hit Rhys Jones in the back as he walked across the car park en route home from football practise. Ironically Rhys had turned down a lift home from his football coach, it was in fact only a short distance. Despite this Mercer even fired a third shot which hit another structure. He then fled the scene on a mountain bike.

Sean Mercer was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Other gang members and some of their parents were also awarded prison sentences for assisting Mercer, committing firearm offences and perverting the course of justice. Cashman was convicted in March 2023. Two very young innocent children, Rhys Jones and Olivia Pratt-Korbel are lost forever.

On the 28th April 1999 George Knights, a gun fantasist fired over 80 rounds from a 9mm handgun and a 5.56mm Bushmaster assault rifle at police officers who were chasing him in cars after a minor incident near Hampton in SW London. Knights even fired towards random people just passing by narrowly missing a bus driver by inches and two young lads in a builders van. In court not only did he deny the offences, (claiming the gunman was a friend called John Paul who escaped), he also suggested that the reason no one was hurt was down to the marksmanship of the firer who was skillfully placing warning shots towards police officers despite the crowded areas. It was actually pure luck that nobody was killed or injured.

Knights, despite not actually harming anybody is still in prison and now prefers to be known as Steve. I have communicated with him by letter. His ranting self centred agenda would seem to explain why he is still in custody.

Albert Dryden was another crusading fantasist who shot and killed a local planning officer over a building dispute. This was near the village of Butsfield in County Durham in June 1991. The incident was being filmed by the local press at what was anticipated to be the spectacle of a planned demolition after a lengthy dispute.

The picture above was taken of Albert Dryden just seconds before he very deliberately shot and killed Harry Collinson who was standing next to the cameraman on the other side of the fence. The blind naivety and utter stupidity of the press, police, and planning officials at the time of this stand-off was evident. Even when Dryden produced the gun, a .455 Webley revolver from a western style, tie down holster the ridiculous assumption was that he was brandishing a harmless reproduction or deactivated gun. You can see the brass cartridge rims clearly visible in the revolver’s chambers.

After shooting Harry Collinson in the chest his victim had fallen backwards and was lying face up and mortally wounded in a ditch. The surrounding throng momentarily just stood still in shock and then just fled in all directions. Dryden climbed through the fence and paused briefly before firing towards the fleeing crowd. He seemed to be searching for a particular target who it was later considered to be solicitor, Michael Dunston who had been standing close to Harry Collinson.

Dryden’s total inability and poorly aimed shots hit a fleeing BBC reporter Tony Belmont in the arm and PC Stephen Campbell in the lower back. He then reloaded and stepped back. Straddling the body of Harry Collinson, he fired another 2 rounds into his chest and face. He discharged the remaining rounds at the demolition vehicles. He was later contained and arrested by armed police.

Dryden died in prison in September 2018 and never voiced regret for his actions. He considered himself a righteous landowner struggling to make an existence whilst battling with corrupt officialdom. There was nothing honourable about Albert Dryden. Despite that he had a sympathetic following and even now some locals still voice support for him and his appalling actions.

The victims of these indiscriminate acts are often described as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We find ourselves concurring with the sentiment, but it is woefully wrong. These innocent victims were in a rightful place that was invaded by a profoundly evil mindset who didn’t have the right to breath the air within it.