Ashley Dale's dad said that "history had repeated itself" after two of his children were shot dead.
Steven Dunne addressed the court ahead of the sentencing of Ashley's killers today. Mr Dunne took to the witness box and read a victim personal statement, in front of James Witham, Joseph Peers, Niall Barry and Sean Zeisz who were found guilty of her murder.
The 28-year-old council worker was shot dead in her own home on Leinster Road in Old Swan by James Witham in the early hours of August 21 last year. Witham used a Skorpion submachine gun for the shooting which the court heard part of a plot to kill Lee Harrison, Ashley's boyfriend.
After a seven week trial, at Liverpool crown court, Mr Justice Goose sentenced James Witham, 41, Joseph Peers, 29, Niall Barry, 26 and Sean Zeisz, 28. The four were also found guilty of conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, namely a Skorpion submachine gun, and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
All were sentenced to life in prison, Sean Zeisz was sentenced to a minimum term of 42 years, Niall Barry 47 years, James Witham 43 years and Joseph Peers 41 years. Ahead of the sentencing being delivered, a statement read on behalf of Ashley's dad mentioned his heartbreak after losing two children in fatal shootings. In 2005, Ashley's brother, Lewis Dunne, was shot to death aged just 16.
Mr Dunne said: "On Saturday 20th August 2022, I went to bed as normal. I didn’t realise that when I woke up, my life would never be the same again. In the early hours of the morning on Sunday 21st August 2022, I was awoken by an officer from Merseyside Police who, on confirming who I was, told me my daughter, Ashley Dale, was dead.
"I can’t even begin to describe how I felt. I’d instantly been confined to a living nightmare. He then proceeded to tell me that Ashley had been shot. 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. It had been a long seven years of pulling myself out of some very dark – and at times, lonely – places, trying to put my life back together.
"In 2022, I was expecting the arrival of my first grandson, and life seemed to be pretty positive again. It had taken a lot to get to where I was after the murder of my son, and I’d instantly been put back to day one by the actions of another. Ashley is the oldest of my three children, Lewis the youngest – both are now deceased."
Three were found guilty of the murder Lewis' murder after he was shot in the back at close range in a case of mistaken identity as his attackers sought revenge against a rival gang. Drug dealers Jake Culshaw, 26, and brothers John and Paul Martin, aged 20 and 26, armed themselves the loaded weapon and shot Lewis as he walked into their path alongside the Leeds and Liverpool canal on the evening of November 15, 2015.
Liverpool Crown Court heard previously heard that Lewis was not involved in any of the previous incidents and was simply on his way to a local shop and "in the wrong place at the wrong time". Read the full coverage of the sentencing here.