Murdered Ashley Dale spotted lying in backyard minutes after car 'screeched away', inquest hears

Ashley Dale, 28, was shot in her own home in Old Swan. Credit: Family photo

Neighbours heard tyres screeching before spotting fatally injured Ashley Dale lying in her back yard, a coroner's court heard.

Andre Rebello, senior coroner for Liverpool and Wirral, opened inquests into the death of the environmental health officer alongside Sam Rimmer and nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel.

Ashley Dale was murdered after a gunman forced open her front door in Leinster Road, Old Swan, and opened fire "indiscriminately".

Merseyside Police say they do not believe Miss Dale was the intended target, but do believe her address was targeted for reasons detectives are working to establish.

Police say the Knowsley Council worker was not believed to have been the intended target Credit: Family photo

Gerard Majella Courthouse heard how a Home Office pathologist recorded Miss Dale's medical cause of death as a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Mr Rebello told the court: "At 12.41 am on 21 August a concerned member of the public contacted Merseyside Police advising that there was a female lying on her back on the floor of the back-yard of her home address in Leinster Road.

"Officers attended and noted that the front door had been forced. They entered the house to conduct a search and found the back door was open and insecure.

"Ashley was located lying on her back unresponsive."

Mr Rebello said what appeared to be a puncture wound to her front was visible and a mobile phone was located near to where she had collapsed.

The court heard several bullet casings were found at the property and no-one else was present at the house when officers arrived.

Police at the scene of Ashley Dale's murder in Old Swan. Credit: PA Images

Mr Rebello said house-to-house enquiries were conducted, which saw witnesses report hearing loud bangs and a vehicle "screeching off" around the time of the murder.

Police officers attempted CPR until paramedics took over, but Miss Dale was pronounced dead at the Royal Liverpool Hospital at 1.48 am.

He described finding the killer as key to helping Miss Dale's family through a "very difficult bereavement journey".

Mr Rebello said Ashley's body no longer needed to be kept back for forensic reasons and released her to allow her family to lay her to rest.

The inquest was adjourned until 4 January next year.

Merseyside Police have so far arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of Ashley Dale's murder and a 21-year-old woman on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Both have been released on conditional bail pending further enquiries.

Police are still appealing for witnesses who may have information about Ashley's murder.