Gang who plotted to kill a man but murdered his innocent girlfriend jailed

Four men have been jailed for a total of 173 years in prison for the murder of Ashley Dale at her home in Liverpool, in August 2022.

On Wednesday,  James Witham (41), Joseph Peers (29), Niall Barry (26), and Sean Zeisz (28) (pictured from left to right) were found guilty of murder by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court.

The men conspired to kill Ashley’s boyfriend Lee Harrison and possessed a prohibited weapon – a Skorpion submachine gun – as well as ammunition with intent to endanger life.

They court heard how they worked together to plan and execute a shooting at the home of Ashley Dale and Lee Harrison in Leinster Road in the Old Swan area of Liverpool in the early hours of August 21, 2022.

Lee Harrison was out but Ashley was at home. James Witham forced open the front door to the house, armed with a Skorpion submachine gun.

Ashley saw him and screamed at him to get out, but he pursued her, shooting ten bullets in her direction. One bullet fatally struck Ashley.

Senior crown prosecutor James Allison, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Complex Casework Unit, said: “This has been a long and difficult prosecution. We had to piece together many different types of evidence to form one overarching and clear picture for the jury.

“This was an appalling crime, where separate disputes between the defendants, Lee Harrison, and his associates in the Hillsiders gang, escalated into a deadly feud.

“This is the tragic result of gun crime – a young woman who was not involved in any criminality found dead in her own home. Society will not tolerate this, and the Crown Prosecution Service and Merseyside Police have worked hard to bring the defendants in this case to justice.

“On behalf of the CPS we would like to thank the police, prosecution counsel and, most of all, Ashley’s family for the courage and dignity they have shown throughout.”

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