More people could be arrested in connection with the murder of 28-year-old Ashley Dale, as police investigations continue. The council worker was shot dead in her own home on Leinster Road in Old Swan, Liverpool in the early hours of August 21 last year.

James Witham, Joseph Peers, Niall Barry and Sean Zeisz were unanimously convicted of her murder last month following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

They were also found guilty of conspiracy to murder Ms Dale's boyfriend Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, namely a Skorpion submachine gun, and ammunition with intent to endanger life, reports the ECHO.

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Ian Fitzgibbon was cleared of these three charges while a sixth defendant, Kallum Radford, was acquitted of assisting an offender.

The Crown Prosecution has confirmed to the ECHO that investigations into the shooting remain "ongoing". A total of 15 people were previously arrested on suspicion of various offences in connection with Ms Dale's death, and several remain on police bail.

Olivia Cristinacce-Travis, senior crown prosecutor for the CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: "At this stage, there are people who are currently released under investigation or on police bail. We're not in a position to comment on the status of the investigation on those charges.

"There is still an ongoing investigation in relation to some of those people. So it's not entirely concluded as of yet."

Barry was the first of the defendants to be arrested, being detained by armed officers at the Formby Hall Hotel on the evening of August 24 2022. His trial also heard that his girlfriend was held alongside him on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Zeisz was then arrested on August 31. Merseyside Police confirmed on September 2 that a 48-year-old woman from St Helens had been held on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Witham and Peers were then detained after the Audi they were being driven in was stopped by police on the M6 southbound in Cumbria, near to Tebay Services, on September 14. On the same date, a 35-year-old man from Old Swan was arrested on suspicion of murder while a 57-year-old man from Croxteth was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

The force confirmed on October 5 that a 22-year-old man, from Liverpool city centre, had been held on suspicion of assisting an offender and conspiracy to supply class A drugs. Three people - Radford, a 23-year-old woman from St Helens and a 31-year-old man from St Helens - were detained on suspicion of assisting an offender on October 11.

Fitzgibbon was arrested in Spain on August 9 this year, being extradited back to the UK two weeks later. The CPS has confirmed that no further action will be taken against several of those who were arrested.

Ms Cristinacce-Travis added: "Obviously the investigations are still ongoing, so just because we've had this prosecution doesn't mean that's the end of this case altogether. However, from certainly a prosecutor’s perspective, we have got the men that we believe are responsible in not just committing the offence, but orchestrating it and planning it all in one pile together."

Paul Greaney KC told jurors during the prosecution's opening last month that gunman Witham and "driver" Peers, were "dispatched" to Leinster Road to assassinate Harrison and "leave no witnesses". They had allegedly received their orders from Barry, Zeisz and Fitzgibbon - who were said to have been "directing operations" from a flat on Pilch Lane in Huyton.

The court heard that, at around 11.40pm on August 20 2022, two men approached Ashley’s white Volkswagen T-Roc car - which was parked outside the house - and slashed its tyres, causing the alarm to sound, in an effort to "lure" the occupants out. But it is thought Ashley believed the alarm had been set off by heavy rain and, as a result, did not leave her home, where she was spending the evening alone with her dachshund Darla,

Mr Greaney said: "The men who had damaged the car were not deterred. Fifty minutes later, at about 12.30am, they returned.

"This time, they were not to be diverted from their intention to kill. One of the men approached the front door of 40 Leinster Road and he kicked it in.

"Ashley plainly became aware of what was happening. She screamed and fled towards the back door of the house, but the man entered the house and he pursued her.

"He was armed with a machine gun and opened fire. Ashley was struck by a bullet - it passed through her abdomen, causing catastrophic damage."

Mr Greaney said that "certain events at Glastonbury Festival" in June 2022 had "played an important part" in the alleged motive behind the attack, adding: "Ashley Dale and Lee Harrison, her boyfriend, attended the festival, as did at least four of the defendants - Sean Zeisz, Niall Barry, Ian Fitzgibbon and James Witham. A group of other young men from Liverpool were also present, one of whom was a person called Jordan Thompson - who was known as Dusty.

"Lee Harrison seems to have had an association with the group of which Dusty was part. Whilst at the festival, Sean Zeisz was assaulted, and his attackers included Jordan Thompson.

"This attack appears to have occurred because Sean Zeisz was, as it was later expressed, arguing with everyone for Niall Barry - who was known as Branch. To compound the loss of face for Sean Zeisz, in the aftermath of the assault his girlfriend - a woman called Olivia, known as Liv, McDowell - stayed with the group of which Jordan Thompson, Lee Harrison and Ashley Dale were part.

"It is clear that Sean Zeisz felt deeply humiliated from what had happened at Glastonbury."

The court also heard that Barry then sided with Zeisz, with this "fresh" dispute having compounded a "separate and longstanding antagonism towards Lee Harrison", who was not present at the time of the attack. The suicide of Rikki Warnick, who had apparently been "bullied" by Thompson before his death, was also said to have increased tensions between the two factions.

Mr Greaney said: "Niall Barry used these new events at Glastonbury to reignite that old feud. And, as tensions simmered in Liverpool, Niall Barry made a series of threats directed towards Lee Harrison."

Witham, of Ashbury Road in Huyton, admitted having barged down the door of Ashley's home and sprayed the property with bullets using a Skorpion submachine gun. But the 41-year-old claimed he did not see or hear Ashley inside and was instead attempting to "send a message" to Harrison, with whom he had supposedly been in dispute with over drug dealing in North Wales.

He denied having plotted with others to arrange the shooting beforehand, stating that he had decided to discharge the gun at the address, which he said he believed was empty, on the spur of the moment while drunk and high on cocaine. Witham maintained that he had found the weapon buried in Stadt Moers Park, having learned of its existence after speaking to a pair of brothers called "Big Dave and Little Dave" while at the Everton v Nottingham Forest match on the afternoon of August 20.

Twenty-nine-year-old Peers, of Woodlands Road in Roby, meanwhile told the court he had been at home watching a fight between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk on the television with his dad at the time of the shooting. Barry, aged 26 and of Moscow Drive in Tuebrook, 28-year-old Zeisz, of Longreach Road in Huyton, and 28-year-old Fitzgibbon, of Heigham Gardens in St Helens, also said they had been watching the boxing in the Pilch Lane flat and had no knowledge of any plan to attack Leinster Road.

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Radford, of Trentham Road in Kirkby, was accused of making arrangements for the Hyundai i30N Performance used in the shooting to be stored at an address in St Helens in the aftermath of the incident. But the 26-year-old claimed to be unaware that the car had been used in connection with any crime.

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