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Ashley Dale’s Mother Calls Daughter Killers ‘Monsters’


The mother of a 28-year-old lady who was shot with a machine gun in her house confronted the perpetrators in court, branding them “monsters” as they were being held accountable for her death.

Following a fight with her boyfriend, Ashley Dale was struck when James Witham stormed into her Liverpool home and started shooting.

A minimum of 41 years in prison has been imposed on four men.

Julie, the mother of Ms. Dale, spoke passionately and directly to the murderers while seated in the witness box.

She said: “I hope you all understand that I will never ever forgive you for the life sentence you have given to me and my family.

“Although I can now rest knowing that you monsters are going to pay for what you have done to me and my family and that you too have ruined your own lives and your families’ lives.

“I hope my words haunt you all forever and you, James Witham. I hope when you go to sleep at night you too see my baby girl’s face as I do every single night.”

When she had finished speaking, Witham, head still in his hands, briefly left the dock.

The murder was referred to as “an execution” by the prosecution.

Steven Dunne, the father of Ms. Dale, claimed that since his teenage son was also shot and killed seven years prior, he had been “confined to a nightmare” and that “history was repeating itself”.

He said: “I am now sitting with my one remaining child, having been put through the trauma of yet another trial, listening to those verdicts being read out in relation to Ashley’s murder.

“I have lost another child. A victim of big egos running around the city with powerful guns, involved in petty feuds and killing innocent people.”

Witham, 41, was sentenced to a minimum of 43 years in prison for using a Skorpion submachine gun in the murder.

The minimum prison terms for his accomplices, Joseph Peers, 29, Sean Zeisz, 28, and Niall Barry, 26, are 47, 42, and 41 years, respectively.

Two of the men, Zeisz and Barry, were mentioned during the trial at Liverpool Crown Court as possible suspects in the shooting death of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, a schoolgirl.

The August 2022 shooting was intended to target Ms. Dale’s partner, Lee Harrison, who was not present in the house at the time, as the court heard testimony.

In June of that year, a feud with Barry over drug theft had resurfaced at the Glastonbury festival.

Barry was overheard threatening to stab Mr. Harrison during the festival, and Zeisz was attacked by a group that included Jordan Thompson, a friend of Mr. Harrison’s who was involved in the Hillside organized crime group.

Witham, of Ashbury Road, Huyton, forced open the door of Ms. Dale’s house in the Old Swan neighborhood and started firing a Skorpion submachine gun, killing the environmental health officer.

The prosecution characterized Barry, of Moscow Drive, Tuebrook, as the “malign presence” responsible for the murder.

Zeisz, residing on Longreach Road in Huyton, was discovered to have planned and instigated the assault alongside Barry.

Peers, of Roby’s Woodlands Road, was referred to in court as a “foot soldier” because he assisted Witham in severing the tires of Ms. Dale’s vehicle in an effort to entice the couple to leave the house. Peers also drove Witham to the scene.

The court heard how Ms. Dale had written voice notes to her friends in the final months of her life, expressing her growing fears and anxieties.

Some of the voice notes were sent less than 30 minutes before she was shot and proved to be crucial in convicting those responsible.

Since his girlfriend’s murder, Mr. Harrison, the court heard, has been “totally uncooperative” with the police.

During her daughter’s death, Mrs. Dale told the court, “time had stood still”.

“That day I not only lost my daughter, but my best friend. The night we got that dreaded knock that no parent or family should ever have to get,” she said.

“Ashley’s two younger sisters were sleeping peacefully in their beds upstairs. Then the reality set in, that I was going to have to tell them, their big sister they so adored was no longer here.

“No act or person deserves to die – but this I will never ever begin to understand or accept how this could have happened to my perfect beautiful girl, who had her whole life ahead of her.”

She was a “very popular” employee, according to Knowsley Council, and had just received a promotion.

A spokeswoman said: “She was eager to learn and develop, and genuinely enjoyed helping people. She had her whole life ahead of her. Our thoughts remain with her family, friends and colleagues.”

The murder of Ms. Dale in the “safest place she thought she would be, her home” was characterized as “brutal and senseless” by Det Ch Insp Cath Cummings of Merseyside Police.

“As James Witham stormed into Ashley’s home that night, wearing a balaclava, firing from a Skorpion sub-machine gun, he took away Ashley, an ambitious, bubbly, charismatic, young woman. The community rocked, her family and friends left devastated.”

She complimented Mr. Justice Julian Goose and Ms. Dale’s family on their “immense courage and composure.”

He said: “I have been struck by the dignity you have shown and your personal statements – they were truly remarkable.”

The judge told the men: “Each of you is a dangerous offender.

“Ashley Dale was in the prime of her life and she was gunned down in her own home where she should have been safe.”

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