Family of Ashley Dale break down in court as they hear final messages of council worker gunned down at home

10 October 2023, 19:37

Ashley Dale was killed at home
Ashley Dale was killed at home. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The family of Ashley Dale broke down in court when they heard the final messages she sent before she was gunned downa t home last August.

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Ms Dale, 28, was shot dead in her home in Liverpool, in the early hours of August 21 last year.

Five men - James Witham, 41, Niall Barry, 26, Sean Zeisz, 28, Ian Fitzgibbon, 28, and Joseph Peers, 29 - are accused of her murder, which is said to have happened following a feud with her partner Lee Harrison.

They deny the charge.

The jury in the trial, which is taking place at Liverpool Crown Court, was shown a selfie of Ms Dale with her dachshund Darla, which she took less than an hour before her death.

Read more: Council worker Ashley Dale killed with Cold War sub-machine gun over feud 'reignited at Glastonbury festival'

Read more: Moment police arrest Ashley Dale murder accused on way to Glastonbury and find knife after 'feud with her boyfriend’

Ashley Dale died in the summer of 2022 after she was hit in the abdomen by a bullet.
Ashley Dale died in the summer of 2022 after she was hit in the abdomen by a bullet. Picture: Alamy

The jury was also shown photos of damage caused to the tyres of Ms Dale's car, which were allegedly slashed at 11.40pm on August 20 in an attempt to lure the occupants of her home on Leinster Road outside.

The court heard she sent the picture to a friend at 11.51pm on August 20 with the message: "Any need for my child.

"I've never known anything like it. She's scared of something outside before in back a cat or a rat. She's got me nerves gone coz am scared of both.

"And now won't leave me side like an actual baby."

The court heard Ms Dale messaged her mother, Julie Dale, at 11.46pm, after the tyres were damaged, and told her rain had set off her car alarm.

Ashley Dales' family arriving at court
Ashley Dales' family arriving at court. Picture: Alamy

Her mother replied: "Bloody hell really. Wanna see the leaves round here."

Ms Dale messaged her mother saying: "Saw that on the news today x Because of the heat wave x."

Detective Sergeant Graeme Sutton told the court: "The last message to her mum read 'world's ending'."

Mrs Dale was in tears as the last messages her daughter sent her were shown to the court.

Tissues were passed to other relatives and friends in tears in the public gallery of the court.

At 11.40pm, Ms Dale sent a message to her partner Mr Harrison saying her car alarm was going off.

Ashley Dale
Ashley Dale. Picture: Handout

He replied just over 20 minutes later saying: "Hahahaha you think your in a horror movie. R u okay? Alive."

At 12.07am, less than half an hour before she was shot, Ms Dale replied: "No I'm dead."

The jury was told data from Ms Dale's phone showed at 12.32am she moved five steps.

Phone records show she called Mr Harrison at 12.33am but he did not answer and she left a one minute 43 second voicemail.

CCTV showed the Hyundai used in the shooting drove onto Ms Dale's road at 12.30am and left the road two minutes 36 seconds later.

Ashley's father Steve Dunne walked out of court as body worn footage showing police officers arriving at the house was played.

Mrs Dale and Ashley's stepfather, Rob Jones, left as medical evidence was read to the jury.

Alex Langhorn, prosecuting, said Ms Dale had been hit in the abdomen by a bullet which passed through her liver and the right chamber of her heart.

She was pronounced dead at hospital at 1.48am, the court heard.

Witham, of Huyton, admits Ms Dale's manslaughter but denies murder.

He and his four co-defendants also deny conspiracy to murder Mr Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, a Skorpion sub-machine gun, and ammunition.

Kallum Radford, 26, of no fixed address, denies assisting an offender. The trial will continue on Wednesday.

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