Shooting victim ‘fell in love with the wrong boy’, family say

(Left to right) Ashley Dale’s sister (who has requested not to be named), mother Julie Dale and stepfather Rob Jones arriving at Liverpool Crown Court (Peter Byrne/PA)
(Left to right) Ashley Dale’s sister (who has requested not to be named), mother Julie Dale and stepfather Rob Jones arriving at Liverpool Crown Court (Peter Byrne/PA)

The family of a woman who was shot at her own home have said she “fell in love with the wrong boy” as they expressed their anger towards the “despicable” boyfriend her murderers were targeting.

Four men – Niall Barry, 26, Sean Zeisz, 28, James Witham, 41, and Joseph Peers, 29 – were convicted of the murder of Ashley Dale, 28, who was killed following a feud involving her partner Lee Harrison, 26, a man the trial heard was associated with the Hillside organised crime group in Huyton, Liverpool.

Ms Dale’s mother Julie Dale, 46, said she was “very, very angry” towards Mr Harrison, who had been in a relationship with her daughter for about five years before her death.

She 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.”

She added: “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.”

During the trial, the court heard since his girlfriend’s death Mr Harrison had been “totally unco-operative” with police, and had been to Dubai on several occasions.

Miss Dale’s stepfather Rob Jones said: “The problem we keep coming back to is Ashley fell in love with the wrong boy.

“I’m not saying for one minute Ashley did not love him, I’m saying he doesn’t love her, clearly, by actions.”

Julie Dale said her daughter was “career driven” and excited about starting a promotion as an environmental health officer at Knowsley Council.

She said sitting through the trial, which lasted more than six weeks, had been harder than she expected.

“I thought, in the early days, with some of the things that we had to do – planning a funeral and some really horrific things that we had to do in the beginning, I thought nothing can top them, nothing can get any worse,” she said.

“But, sitting in court having the defendants there and seeing them and then listening and seeing the horrific details of what happened to her and how she was just basically just left on her own to die. It’s horrendous.”

Ashley Dale
Ashley Dale was described as ‘career driven’ (Merseyside Police/PA)

During the trial the court was shown photos of Miss Dale and Mr Harrison with some of the defendants.

Witham, who admitted firing the shot which killed Ms Dale, was seen in one undated picture making a peace sign as he posed with Miss Dale and Mr Harrison.

Julie Dale said: “The difficult thing is, most of the defendants, pretty much all of them, knew Ashley and have known her on a friendly basis.

“Never mind to do what they did, but then to get up and lie about it and talk about her. Hearing them mention her name just makes me so angry.”

Speaking to anyone involved in gun crime, she added: “Just think about how it affects so many people.

“We’re broken, our life is never, ever going to be the same ever again.”