Four men to be sentenced over machine gun murder of Ashley Dale

Ashley Dale, 28, who was shot in her home in Liverpool (Merseyside Police/PA)
Ashley Dale, 28, who was shot in her home in Liverpool (Merseyside Police/PA)

Four men are due to be sentenced for the murder of a 28-year-old woman who was shot with a machine gun in her home.

Environmental health worker Ashley Dale was killed when gunman James Witham, 41, forced his way into her home in Old Swan, Liverpool, in the early hours of August 21 last year, and opened fire with a Skorpion submachine gun.

Witham, who had admitted manslaughter, and co-defendants Joseph Peers, 29, Niall Barry, 26 and Sean Zeisz, 28, were found guilty of murder on Monday after a seven-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

They were also convicted of conspiracy to murder Ms Dale’s partner Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon and ammunition.

Mr Justice Goose will sentence the men at 11am on Wednesday.

The trial heard that the shooting came after a feud involving the defendants and Mr Harrison, which the prosecution alleged “reignited” at the Glastonbury festival in June 2022.

The court heard that all the defendants had been together in a flat in Huyton, Merseyside, on the evening of August 20 before “foot soldiers” Witham and Peers left shortly after 10pm to carry out the shooting.

Witham claimed he had acted alone and had gone to the house to send a “warning” to Mr Harrison, who he claimed was trying to steal drug customers in North Wales.

He told the jury he believed the house was empty when he fired the shots.

Ms Dale’s death was one of three fatal shootings within the space of a week in Liverpool in August last year.

Nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel died when Thomas Cashman, 35, chased a convicted drug dealer into her home in Dovecot the day after Ms Dale’s murder, and Sam Rimmer, 22, was killed in Dingle on August 16.