Merseyside's Police commissioner has slammed the four "cowards" who murdered Ashley Dale and tried to cover up their roles in her "senseless" killing.

Today James Witham, Joseph Peers, Niall Barry and Sean Zeisz were all found guilty of murdering 28-year-old council worker Ashley in her own home in Leinster Road in Old Swan in August last year.

They were also found guilty of conspiracy to murder Ms Dale's boyfriend Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, namely a Skorpion submachine gun, and ammunition with intent to endanger life. Ian Fitzgibbon was cleared of these three charges while a sixth defendant, Kallum Radford, was acquitted of assisting an offender.

READ MORE: Four men found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale

READ MORE: Ian Fitzgibbon punches air in celebration as he's cleared of Ashley Dale's murder

Reacting to today's verdicts, Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “I cannot begin to imagine the pain, suffering and loss Ashley Dale’s loved ones have experienced since her shocking murder in August 2022. No family should have to face the devastating heartache they have had to endure in the past fifteen months.

“Ashley was just 28 years old. She was a beautiful young woman with the rest of her life ahead of her. She was at home that night, in a place she was meant to feel safe. She was making a positive contribution to our region in her role as an environmental health officer at Knowsley Council and she’d just successfully achieved a promotion. Heartbreakingly, she never got the chance to begin her new job as her life was cut short in the most brutal and merciless way."

Ms Spurrell added: “No justice will ever bring Ashley back to her family. Being present in court over the last seven weeks, witnessing the heartless attempts of those four cowards to cover-up their involvement in Ashley’s murder while being forced to relive the events of that tragic night, must only have compounded their unthinkable suffering.

“Thankfully, the jury saw through those lies and while today’s guilty verdict will not end their grief and loss, I hope it will bring them some small comfort that the four individuals responsible will be spending many years behind bars for their appalling crimes."

The PCC also paid tribute to the investigation team at Merseyside Police and the officers and staff who worked with them, praising their "commitment and determination" to solving this case. She added: "In the hours and days following this horrendous incident, right up to today’s guilty verdict, they have been relentless in their pursuit of justice to make sure those responsible are made to for their actions. I’m also very grateful to a number of other forces who provided support.

Ashley Dale was murdered in her home in August 2022
Ashley Dale was murdered in her home in August 2022

“I’d also like to thank the people of Old Swan and the brave witnesses who through immense courage came forward with vital information to ensure these callous individuals are no longer able to spread toxicity and fear within our communities."

Ms Spurrell added: "Ashley’s senseless murder was the second of three fatal shootings in what was a very dark week for our city, showing that there is a still a shameful minority who occupy the gutters of our society and who are prepared to use guns with no care for the harm they inflict on others. To break into an innocent young woman’s house and fire a powerful submachine pistol is deplorable and yet these men have shown not a single shred of remorse.

“There is no place for firearms in our region. The police are relentless in their approach to tackling heartless criminals. Last year our region saw the number of gun crime incidents reduce by almost a third but even one firearm incident is one too many. I am determined to do everything I can to support the force as they continue to pursue those organised crime groups who attempt to spread fear and intimidation in communities in which they operate.

“The ongoing support of our communities is also vital in making it clear these disgusting, callous individuals will not be tolerated in our proud region. I would urge anybody, if you know where weapons are being kept or suspect who is using them then please, do the right thing and speak out. By doing so, you could play a vital role in protecting the lives of innocent people and preventing further tragedies.

“Together, we can stop those intent on causing violence and harm and make all our communities stronger and safer places to live, work and play for all.”

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