At first glance Leinster Road is like any street in Merseyside.

Smart rows of terraced houses line either side, with well-kept front doors tucked behind small front gates. But the Old Swan community, described as "quiet and old fashioned," is now known by a specific name - "the road where Ashley Dale died".

The 28-year-old, called "lovely and glamorous" by the people who took pride in calling her their neighbour, was brutally killed in an "extreme act of violence" last August. Ashley, a Knowsley Council employee days away from a well-earned promotion at work, was sitting in her pyjamas having a drink on the sofa in the living room of her home with her dachshund Darla, her only company.

READ MORE: Ashley Dale was sat in pyjamas watching TV when James Witham kicked down her front door and executed her

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

At around 11:30pm her peaceful evening was disturbed when her car alarm went off.

She mistakenly believed this was as a result of the poor weather, but in fact her tyres had been slashed by a hit team who an hour later kicked in her front door and shot her dead with a Skorpion sub-machine gun. On Monday this week, four men - James Witham, Joseph Peers, Niall Barry and Sean Zeisz - were unanimously convicted of her murder by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court.

Following the culmination of the trial, her neighbours today, Tuesday, November 21 remembered Ashley and the sickening violence that was brought to their doorstep. Speaking to the ECHO from her front door, a mum with two young children said she remembers briefly speaking with Ashley just hours before her murder.

The mum, who did not want to give her name, told the ECHO: "I saw her around six or seven o'clock going to the shop. We briefly said hello to each other. I can't believe she isn't here anymore - she never deserved what happened to her. I've always lived in the Swan and nothing like this happens.

"My nerves were gone after it happened. I wouldn't go in the back garden to put out my rubbish. I put double locks on my front door - I know they knew each other but imagine if they got the wrong house? I remember seeing the little tent in her garden where it happened.

Police on Leinster Road, Old Swan, Liverpool, where a woman was shot dead on 21 August 2022
Police on Leinster Road, Old Swan, Liverpool, where a woman was shot dead on 21 August 2022

"I was watching my children play in the garden a few days later and just thought how close we were to it. To think they (Witham and Peers) walked a couple of metres from my house is disgusting. Everyone was on edge after it happened, but we all rallied around each other, making sure we were okay. When people ask where I live, they always say 'is that the road where Ashley died?'"

The mum, in her 30s, added the day after Ashley's death she was bombarded with messages from friends and family making sure she was okay. She said she wrote on the ECHO's Facebook page comments the following day paying condolences to her neighbour Ashley - and soon after she was messaged by Ashley's family who asked if she was okay. She added: "Her family were lovely - I'm glad they have some justice for her."

On Leinster Road on a Tuesday afternoon, the winter sun shines warmly. People walk their dogs or run errands at the array of shops on Prescot Road. A new, white door has been installed on Ashley's home, with the house being sold to a new owner earlier this year. A woman who lives several doors down told the ECHO how Ashley was "a hard worker and a good neighbour".

The woman, who has lived on Leinster Road for 20 years, said: "She was lovely. She was quiet, she worked a lot so you only really saw her if she was passing to go to the shops but she always said hello. She was just lovely, very glamorous, just a typical Scouse girl.

"We all felt horrible for her family. We all came together as a community. We all looked after the flowers outside her house and made sure a candle was lit there. It felt really peaceful after it happened - a few of her friends and family came here and police officers were outside her door for about six weeks.

"We don't know Ashley's family but we did what we could for them by keeping the flowers nice at the front of her house. I didn't know the people who did it but I'm glad they're convicted. She wasn't the type of girl to be caught up in this."

For more than seven weeks, jurors heard how Barry - a stocky trafficker of drugs and firearms known as "Branch" had "beef" not with Ashley, but instead with her boyfriend Lee Harrison. The two men had once been the best of friends as they worked together in the trade of illicit substances.

Paul Greaney KC told jurors during the prosecution's opening last month that gunman Witham and "driver" Peers, were "dispatched" to Leinster Road to assassinate Harrison and "leave no witnesses". They had allegedly received their orders from Barry, Zeisz and Ian Fitzgibbon - who were said to have been "directing operations" from a flat on Pilch Lane in Huyton.

Leinster Road in Old Swan, Liverpool
Leinster Road in Old Swan, Liverpool photographed the day after Ashley Dale's murderers were convicted

Ashley's shocking murder was the second of three gun-related deaths that hit Merseyside at the end of August last year. Sam Rimmer was shot dead while standing with friends in Dingle, before Ashley was killed several days later. The week of violence culminated with the murder of Olivia Pratt-Korbel - a nine-year-old schoolgirl shot dead in her own home in Dovecot.

One of Ashley's neighbours told the ECHO how the violence of that week affected him and his community. He said: "We didn't know Ashley too well with her being a young girl and us being an older couple. We'd sometimes take in a parcel for her, but she was always friendly.

"The first we heard was when police knocked on our door, but I only knew it was her when I saw her face on TV. I've followed the case - it's sad all round for something like that to happen, no one deserves that. You never imagine something like this to happen - people say 'never on my street' but it happens all over.

"She was just an ordinary girl who had a good job. This happened at the same time as Olivia - it always comes in spates - you wonder what is going on. Unfortunately this kind of violence is never going to stop.

"No matter what city you live in, this goes on. People say the grass is greener, but it's not. You just have to live with what is around you and hope something like this never happens on your doorstep like this."

Julie Dale (left) with her daughter Ashley, who was shot dead last August
Julie Dale (left) with her daughter Ashley, who was shot dead last August

Speaking with the ECHO, Ashley's mum Julie, 43, said she was still struggling to accept how her smart, career-driven daughter was dragged into a violent feud arising from a "world that was not her world". Julie, who gave birth to Ashley at 16, said the pair "grew up together".

Julie said she feels a sense of betrayal - not just from the killers who were known to Ashley - but also from her boyfriend Harrison and some of her friends who chose not to give witness statements. Julie, who knew of drug dealer Harrison's lifestyle and behaviour, said he denied any knowledge of the incident and "denied he had any involvement".

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy called the underworld disputes "petty and pathetic", while investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Cath Cummings added: "The four men who have been found guilty have not shown an ounce of remorse for their actions which led to Ashley’s death and instead pleaded not guilty forcing her family to endure a lengthy trial where they have had to relive Ashley’s last moments over and over again."

Olivia Cristinacce-Travis, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, added: "The evidence in this case has shown that this was a cold, calculated and callous attack on a young woman’s home. The home is meant to be an environment that would be a safe place for anybody, and that is what Ashley thought that evening. Clearly, the acts of those responsible in meticulously planning this attack on her home led to another outcome."

Witham, Barry, Zeisz and Peers were each convicted of Ashley's murder, conspiracy to murder Harrison and conspiracy to possess a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. Fitzgibbon, 28, was cleared of all charges and Kallum Radford, 26, was acquitted of one count of assisting an offender.

They will be sentenced by Mr Justice Goose at Liverpool Crown Court tomorrow.

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