Four men who have been found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale will be sentenced today.

The 28-year-old council worker was shot dead in her own home on Leinster Road in Old Swan by James Witham in the early hours of August 21 last year. Witham, Joseph Peers, Niall Barry and Sean Zeisz faced trial at Liverpool Crown Court accused of her murder, and were unanimously convicted by a jury earlier this week on, Monday, November 20 after a seven week trial.

Witham used a Skorpion submachine gun for the shooting which the court heard part of a plot to kill Lee Harrison, Ashley's boyfriend, who had made dangerous enemies. The four were also found guilty of conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, namely a Skorpion submachine gun, and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

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Ian Fitzgibbon was cleared of these three charges while a sixth defendant, Kallum Radford, was acquitted of assisting an offender. Mr Justice Goose will sentence James Witham, 41, Joseph Peers, 29, Niall Barry, 26 and Sean Zeisz, 28, at 11am today.

The trial heard that the shooting came after a feud involving the defendants and Mr Harrison, which the prosecution alleged "reignited" at the Glastonbury festival in June 2022. The court heard that all the defendants had been together in a flat in Huyton, Merseyside, on the evening of August 20 before "foot soldiers" Witham and Peers left shortly after 10pm to carry out the shooting.

From left; Ashley Dale's killers James Witham, Sean Zeisz, Niall Barry and Joseph peers
From left; Ashley Dale's killers James Witham, Sean Zeisz, Niall Barry and Joseph peers

Witham claimed he had acted alone and had gone to the house to send a "warning" to Mr Harrison, who he claimed was trying to steal drug customers in North Wales. He told the jury he believed the house was empty when he fired the shots.

Ms Dale's death was one of three fatal shootings within the space of a week in Liverpool in August last year. Nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel died when Thomas Cashman, 35, chased a convicted drug dealer into her home in Dovecot the day after Ms Dale's murder, and Sam Rimmer, 22, was killed in Dingle on August 16.

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