Council worker shot dead after row at Glastonbury reignited feud, court told

A council worker was shot dead after a row at Glastonbury music festival reignited a feud, a court has heard.

Ashley Dale, 28, was hit in the abdomen by a bullet fired from a machine gun at her home in Old Swan, Liverpool, on August 21 last year.

Opening the trial of five men accused of her murder at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday, Paul Greaney KC said: “There can, suggests the prosecution, be no doubt that Ashley’s death was murder. She was shot deliberately and, indeed, mercilessly by a man who entered her home intending to kill.”

Liverpool shooting
Police and forensic officers on Leinster Road in Old Swan (Jason Roberts/PA)

Four of the men accused of her murder – Sean Zeisz, 28, Niall Barry, 26, Ian Fitzgibbon, 28 and James Witham, 41 – were also there.

The jury heard Zeisz was assaulted at the festival and his attackers included a man called Jordan Thompson.

Following the assault, Zeisz’s girlfriend Olivia McDowell stayed with Mr Thompson, Miss Dale and Mr Harrison, compounding Zeisz’s “loss of face”, Mr Greaney said.

Mr Greaney said: “Niall Barry used these new events at Glastonbury to reignite that old feud.”

He said that on August 20, Fitzgibbon, Zeisz and Barry dispatched “foot soldiers” Witham and the fifth defendant – Joseph Peers, 29 – armed with a Skorpion sub-machine gun to kill Mr Harrison at his home and “to deal with anyone that got in their way, leaving behind no witnesses”.

Miss Dale, whose family members wiped away tears at times during the opening, was at the couple’s home on Leinster Road with her dog on the night of the attack, while Mr Harrison was out.

Mr Greaney said: “It was James Witham who forced the front door to Leinster Road, James Witham who entered the house and James Witham who proceeded to open fire on Ashley, shooting and killing her.

“James Witham then walked upstairs and into a bedroom, where he fired five bullets into the wall. He did that, the prosecution suggests, to send a firm message to Lee Harrison. That message was that he, Lee Harrison, had been the principal target of this attack and he too should be dead, along with Ashley.”

The court heard Peers allegedly drove the gunman to the address in a Hyundai.

Voice recordings which the prosecution said were sent by Miss Dale to friends in the weeks leading up to her death were played to the court, including one in which she said she had “terrible anxiety”.

Liverpool Crown Court
The trial was being held at Liverpool Crown Court (Alamy/PA)

She told friends Barry had fallen out with Mr Harrison a few years ago and was now “on some pure rampage”.

Witham, of Huyton; Fitzgibbon, of St Helens; Zeisz of Huyton; Barry of Tuebrook; and Peers of Roby – all Merseyside – deny Miss Dale’s murder.

All five also deny conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, a Skorpion sub-machine gun, and ammunition.

A sixth defendant, Kallum Radford, 25, of no fixed address, denies assisting an offender.

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