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

The family of a woman shot dead in her own home said she ‘fell in love with the wrong boy' as they expressed their anger at the ‘despicable' boyfriend targeted by her killers.

Four men – Niall Barry, 26, Sean Zeisz, 28, James Witham, 41, and Joseph Peers, 29 – were convicted of murdering Ashley Dale, 28, who was killed after an argument with her partner Lee Harrison , 26, man the trial heard was associated with the Hillside organized crime group in Huyton, Liverpool.

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

She said: “Some days I feel like I'm angrier at him than at the person who killed Ashley because without Lee Harrison this wouldn't have happened.”

He added: “The way he has acted since it happened has been absolutely despicable.

“We had no regrets from him. We had no support from him. We have no admission that it has anything to do with him.

“He's given us a lot of reasons for what he heard they're up to and none of them include him.

“He's still going on with his life, leaving the country, going on vacation, bringing it up, so to speak, as if nothing has happened and nothing has changed for him and it's absolutely disgusting, it really is.”

During the trial, the court heard that since his girlfriend's death, Mr Harrison had been “completely uncooperative” with police and had been to Dubai several times.

The hard part is that most of the defendants, almost all of them, knew Ashley and knew her on a friendly basis.

Ashley Dale's mother, Julie

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

“I'm not saying for a minute that Ashley didn't love him, I'm saying he doesn't love her, clearly, by actions.”

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

He said watching the trial, which lasted more than six weeks, was more difficult than he expected.

“I thought, in the early days, with some of the things we had to do – planning a funeral and some really horrible things we had to do at the beginning, I thought nothing could top them, nothing could get worse . ” he said.

“But to sit in court with the defendants there and see them and then hear and see the horrific details of what happened to her and how she was basically left alone to die. It's horrible.”

During the trial photographs of Miss Dale and Mr Harrison with some of the defendants were shown to the court.

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

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

“It's okay 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, he added: “Think about how it affects so many people.

“We are broken, our lives will never be the same again.”