Four men found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale
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Top row: Barry and Zeisz. Bottom Row: Witham and Peers
Four men have today, Monday 20 November, been found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale at her home in Old Swan in August 2022.
Following a seven-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court, a jury found James Witham, Sean Zeisz, Niall Barry and Joseph Peers guilty of the murder of 28-year-old Ashley, who was fatally shot in her home in Leinster Road on August 21.
James Witham, 41, of Ashbury Road, in Huyton, had previously admitted to being the gunman who fired the fatal shot.
The four men were also found guilty of conspiracy to murder Ashley’s boyfriend Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, namely a Skorpion submachine gun, and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
- Sean Zeisz, 28, of Longreach Road in Huyton, was found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale, conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison, conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon with intent to endanger life.
- Niall Barry, 26, of Moscow Drive in Tuebrook, was found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale, conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison, conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon with intent to endanger life.
- Joseph Peers, 29, of Woodlands Road in Roby, was found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale, conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison, conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon with intent to endanger life.
- James Witham, 41, of Ashbury Road, Huyton, was found guilty of the murder of Ashley Dale, conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison, conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon with intent to endanger life.
Ian Fitzgibbon, 28, of Heigham Gardens in St Helens, was found not guilty of the above offences.
A sixth man, 26-year-old Kallum Radford, of Trentham Road, Kirkby, was found not guilty of assisting an offender.
The four men will be sentenced on Wednesday 22 November.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Cath Cummings said: “The actions of James Witham on that day had a devastating and widespread impact.
“Ashley, an innocent women, lost her life in the most brutal way at the hands of Witham. That was compounded by the fact that she was alone in her own home, where she should have felt and been safe, when she was fatally shot.
“Her family have to live with that knowledge every day.
“This has been a complex and challenging investigation and it was only thanks to the painstaking work of the investigation team and the community who rallied round and pointed us in the right direction in the early stages that we were able to bring about this successful prosecution.
“The evidential material we had was significant from cell site analysis to DNA and trawling through hundreds of hours of CCTV.
“We also seized thousands of exhibits, of which over 300 were digital devices. By far the most important was Ashley’s phone and the voice notes she sent to her friends describing what was going on in her life and the lead up to her death.
“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. I am pleased that the jury saw through their blatant lies and how they conspired together.
“I would like to pay tribute to Ashley’s family for the dignity and composure they showed throughout the trial. These four men now face a considerable length of time behind bars and while that will never bring Ashley back I hope that, after over a year of waiting for justice, they can move to the next chapter of their lives and properly grieve their loss.
“I would like to thank the investigation team, the family liaison officers, the officers and staff of Merseyside Police and the Crown Prosecution Service and lead counsel who were all vital to ensuring we got the right result.
“I hope this sends a message that serious and organised crime will not be tolerated on the streets of Merseyside and we will hunt down the people who are responsible and put them behind bars.”