Ashley Dale's mother calls killers 'monsters' as they are jailed for life

  • Family liaison officer speaks on behalf of Ashley's mum, Julie Dale

The mother of Ashley Dale, who was shot with a machine gun in her home, faced her daughter's killers in court and called them "monsters" as they were jailed for life for the murder.

The 28-year-old was killed when gunman James Witham, 41, forced his way into her home in Old Swan, Liverpool, in the early hours of 21 August last year and opened fire with a Skorpion submachine gun.

At Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, he and three other men convicted of the murder - Niall Barry, 26, Sean Zeisz, 28 and Joseph Peers, 29, were all told they would serve minimum terms of more than 40 years.

Julie Dale said Ashley made her "proud every day" Credit: Merseyside Police

Reading a statement from the witness box, Ms Dale's mother Julie, 46, looked at the four men in the dock and said: "I hope you all understand that I will never ever forgive you, for the life sentence you have gave to me and my family.

"People speak about justice for Ashley but in my eyes there will never be justice, the only justice is that this would never have happened.

"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 family's 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."

Witham, who had his head in his hand as she spoke, left the dock for a short period after she finished reading the statement.

Gunman James Witham, 41, was jailed for a minimum term of 43 years. Credit: Merseyside Police

Mr Justice Goose said the crime had "shocked both the local community and many in this country" and was "beyond any understanding".

He told the court just after 12.30am on 21 August, Witham, wearing a balaclava and carrying a Skorpion sub-machine gun loaded with 15 bullets, broke through the front door of Ms Dale's home.

Ms Dale was standing by the back door in the kitchen when she was hit in the abdomen, the court heard.

Mr Justice Goose said: "Witham wickedly fired 10 bullets towards her as she was vulnerable and defenceless.

"Her screams were heard by neighbours."

Ashley, just 28, was a 'studious' girl, who had grown into a 'very driven' woman, according to her family.

In fact, she had just been given a promotion, but would never get the chance to start in her new role. Julie said: "She made me proud every day".

A statement on behalf of Ashley's father, Steve Dunne, was read out after the sentencing.

Ashley's father Steve Dunne said "history had repeated itself" when she was killed almost seven years after her half-brother Lewis Dunne, 16, was killed in a case of mistaken identity.

A statement from Steve Dunne was read at the sentencing.

Mr Dunne said when he heard the news of his daughter's murder he felt he had "been confined to a living nightmare".

He said: "I remember shouting 'no' for a long time at the top of my voice; I couldn't believe it - history had repeated itself.

"My son, Lewis Dunne, had been shot dead seven years previous at only 16 years of age.

"He was shot at close range in the back with a shotgun in a case of mistaken identity; an innocent victim caught in the middle of a gang feud."

Ashley's half-brother Lewis Dunne, 16, was killed in a case of mistaken identity. Credit: Family

Mr Dunne said he had spent seven years trying to put his "life back together" following Lewis's death but he was "put back to day one" when Ms Dale was shot.

He added: "Ashley is the oldest of my three children, Lewis the youngest - both are now deceased."

Mr Dunne described his daughter as beautiful, intelligent, charismatic and career driven.

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."

Mr Dunne said he had not seen "one single shred of remorse" from the defendants and felt they had behaved disrespectfully to the family.

He added: "These are clearly dangerous individuals, able and willing to deploy the most dangerous of automatic weapons to settle petty disputes, without any concern at all for those caught up in the crossfire.

"No family should ever have to go through what we have gone through; these men cannot be allowed to do this to anyone else."

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