Family of father shot then doused in acid in 'savage murder' in Shevington pay emotional tribute
Video report from Granada Reports journalist Claire Hannah
The family of a dad of two who was shot and doused in acid have hit out at the "kind of world we live in" where "violence and death are considered normal."
Liam Smith, 38, was found dead at the bottom of his driveway in the quiet village of Shevington near Wigan on 24 November 2022.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say he was the intended target of what they have called a "senseless murder" on Kilburn Drive, adding officers are "working tirelessly to build a full and comprehensive picture of what happened".
In an emotional tribute Liam's family described his murder as "savage", and said the death of the "devoted father" of two boys, aged 11 and 15, has sent shockwaves "amongst everyone who knew and loved him".
In a statement, read out by his dad Phil Smith, he said: "Liam's savage murder at his home address has sent complete shock waves of grief and despair amongst everyone who knew and loved him.
"Two young boys will now have to spend the rest of their lives without their adoring father, and the rest of our family will be forever haunted by this senseless act."
He added: "Our family have absolutely no idea whatsoever as to why he was killed. None.
"No family should ever have to go through the extreme depths of grief and confusion that we are going through.
"What kind of world are we living in and raising our children in, if violence and death are considered by some to be normal?
"We are doing this, not only to seek justice for Liam and his boys, but to protect any other family from going through the immense loss and suffering that we have."
Greater Manchester Police say despite the charge their investigation is very much ongoing, and are now appealing for help in tracing a four-by-four which was seen close to the murder scene on two occasions.
The dark grey Mitsubishi Shogun Elegance model had different number plates each time.
It was first spotted on 2 November - three weeks before Liam's murder - close to his house with the registration plates EJ57 UPE.
On the day of his murder it had the distinctive registration plate R22 ORA - which police say "may make people think of Rita Ora" - and was parked there for around 10 hours.
DCI Gina Brennand said the "true keepers of these number plates have no connection to this investigation".
She added: "The car has clear linear damage to the near rear side behind the rear wheel arch and a lens missing on the front offside fog light. It's true plates are unknown at this time.
"The car also had a hi vis workers jacket draped over the driver’s seat."
Police have so far arrested three people in connection with the incident.
One of them, a 38 year old man from Sheffield has been charged with his murder.
Michael Hillier, 38, from Ecclesall Road appeared before Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday 25 January 2023.
He was remanded into custody with a provisional trial date set for 10 July.
Hiller will appear again at Manchester Crown Court on 27 March for a plea and directions hearing.
Another man from Sheffield was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and has been bailed.
Four warrants and 28 premises in the Lancashire area have been executed as part of the inquiry.
DCI Brennand added: "I would urge people who have any information and are withholding this from police to think of the pain that Liam’s loved ones continue to feel every day and ask that they come forward.
Any details should be passed via the LiveChat function or by calling 101 quoting incident number 910 of 25/11/2022.
Information can also be submitted through the Major Incident Public Portal.
Full tribute from Liam's family - read out by his dad Phil Smith alongside his mum:
Four weeks before Christmas - in the early evening of Thursday 24th November 2022- Liam Smith, a 38 year old man, was at home alone on one of the very rare occasions he wasn't with his children - 2 boys aged 15 and 11, upon whom he loved unconditionally.
Just after half past six, Liam was murdered at the bottom of his driveway.
Not only was Liam a devoted father, but he was also a dearly loved, Son, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Grandson and Friend.
Liam's savage murder at his home address has sent complete shock waves of grief and despair amongst everyone who knew and loved him.
Two young boys will now have to spend the rest of their lives without their adoring father, and the rest of our family will be forever haunted by this senseless act.
Liam worked and grafted hard as he could an electrician to give his boys the best start in life he could possibly give.
Our family have absolutely no idea whatsoever as to why he was killed. None.
No family should ever have to go through the extreme depths of grief and confusion that we are going through.
What kind of world are we living in and raising our children in, if violence and death are considered by some to be normal.
We are doing this, not only to seek justice for Liam and his boys, but to protect any other family from going through the immense loss and suffering that we have.
What happened to Liam could be anyone's Dad, Son, Brother, Grandson, Cousin or Friend...
We are therefore sending out a heartfelt plea to anyone with ANY information to please, please contact the Police. This can be done anonymously.
Anyone withholding information about what has happened, have clearly not witnessed the devastation such a heinous crime has on a family like it has done with mine.
Liam's life wasn't the only one destroyed that night, so many other lives have been devastated by his murder.
Our family cannot come to terms with this tragic killing of Liam until justice is served and we receive answers.