Ashley ‘brought own killers to justice’ as cowards killed her over Glasto spat

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    The council worker who was gunned down in a twisted revenge plot managed to bring her killers to justice from beyond the grave.

    Ashley Dale, 28, was found dead at her home in Old Swan, Liverpool, on August 21 last year after gunman James Witham forced his way in and fired a Skorpion machine gun at her.

    Witham, 41, as well as Niall Barry, 26, Sean Zeisz, 28 and Joseph Peers, 29, were today (Monday, November 20) convicted of Ashley's murder. The murder occurred after a feud between the four men and Ashley's boyfriend Lee Harrison, 26, was reignited at Glastonbury Festival last year.

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    Glastonbury Spat

    The jury heard Zeisz was assaulted at the festival and his attackers included a man called Jordan Thompson. Zeisz’s girlfriend then stayed with Thompson, Ashley and Harrison, compounding Zeisz’s “loss of face” according to Paul Greaney KC.

    Barry sided with Zeisz as he already had had fallings out with Harrison. Mr Greaney said: “Niall Barry used these new events at Glastonbury to reignite that old feud.”

    Ian Fitzgibbon (who was also accused of organising or encouraging the killing but found not guilty) described how Barry showed him a knife while at Glastonbury and told him: "Tell him [Harrison] when you see him I’m going to stab him up."

    Voice notes caught killers

    A series of voice notes found on Ashley's phone, dating from when she attended Glastonbury to the day of her death, were crucial in bringing her killers to justice.

    Detective Chief Inspector Cath Cummings said: “For me, as a senior investigating officer, this was the most compelling and emotional part of the case.

    “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the evidence of the murder victim play such a crucial role in a court case. Ashley was narrating her own story and events that led to her death.

    “It’s Ashley that’s actually brought these offenders to justice because overlaying that with the evidence that we’ve been able to gather she’s told us the story herself.”

    The attack

    Barry and Zeisz dispatched "foot soldiers" Witham and Peers with a Skorpion sub-machine gun to kill Harrison on August 20. Ashley was at the couple's home on the night, while Harrison was out.

    Jurors heard that after Witham kicked the front door down Ashley attempted to flee from the back of the house. She was pursued and later found lying in her back garden "groaning in pain".

    Witham had denied murder but admitted manslaughter. He claimed he "never saw or heard Ashley", and that he shot her by accident having gone to "send a message" to Harrison following a dispute about drug dealing in North Wales.

    Peers allegedly drove a Hyundai to the scene and earlier helped Witham stab tyres on Ashley's car in an attempt to lure her from the house.

    Family's anger

    Ashley's family have expressed anger towards her "despicable" boyfriend Harrison, who had been in a relationship with her for about five years. The court heard he had been "totally uncooperative" with police and visited Dubai on several occasions after her death.

    Ashley's mum Julie Dale said: “Some days I feel like I’m more angry towards him than I am to the person who’s actually killed Ashley because without Lee Harrison this wouldn’t have happened.

    “The way he’s acted since this has happened has been absolutely despicable. We’ve had no remorse from him. We’ve had no support from him. We have no admittance that it’s anything to do with him.

    “He’s given us any number of reasons of what he’s heard it’s to do with and none of them include him. He still carries on going about his life, leaving the country, going on holidays, lording it up, shall we say, like nothing’s happened and nothing’s changed for him and it’s absolutely disgusting, it really is.”

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