One of the men accused of encouraging the shooting that killed Ashley Dale was a "stoner" who had "no beef" with her boyfriend, a jury was told.
Adam Davis, KC, delivered his closing speech on behalf of his client Sean Zeisz, 28, who denies any involvement in an attack on Ashley or her boyfriend, Lee Harrison. Ashley died on August 21 last year after being shot in the abdomen with a Skorpion sub-machine gun in her home in Leinster Road, Old Swan.
James Witham, 41, has admitted barging through Ashley's front door at around 12.30am and spraying the inside of the property with bullets. However, he claims he did not see or hear Ashley and was only intending to "send a warning" to Harrison, who he claimed had been stealing drugs and money from him "for years".
The prosecution case is that Witham and Joseph Peers, 29, were "dispatched" to kill 25-year-old Harrison and "anyone who got in the way" by Niall Barry, 26; Ian Fitzgibbon, 28; and Zeisz, who were allegedly directing the hit from a flat in Pilch Lane, Huyton. All five men deny murdering Ashley and conspiracy to murder Harrison and are standing trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
Today Mr Davis suggested to the jury that the evidence did not point to any sinister plotting in the flat. He said: "This is not some tea sipping cabal plotting the demise of Lee Harrison.
"This is a bunch of stoners, sorry but it’s true, sitting around taking drugs, drinking, snoozing, watching boxing and UFC. Sean Zeisz is in the bedroom for much of the time snoozing, Facebooking, smoking."
He claimed that the evidence in the case "destroys" the prosecution case theory, that Zeisz was partially motivated to attack Harrison because he was assaulted by Harrison's friend Jordan Thompson, aka Dusty, at Glastonbury festival on June 25 last year. The jury has heard both Harrison and Thompson were affiliated with the 'Hillsiders' organised crime group, based in the Hillside and Longview estates in Huyton.
He suggested the theory was based on a message sent by Ashley to her friend, recovered from her phone after her death, which said Zeisz had been hit by men nicknamed 'Wally and Joker' and that "Dusty hit him too".
Mr Davis said: "You may think the Crown from the outset have tried to use this message to point to Dusty as being responsible for the assault on Sean Zeisz in Glastonbury. It suited their case theory, not because that’s what the evidence showed."
Mr Davis said that whether or not Dusty was involved in the attack, messages from Ashley referred to Lee Harrison "sticking up for him" after the incident. He referred to a message sent from Ashley to Zeisz's ex girlfriend, Olivia McDowell, who was described as enraging Zeisz further by "seeing Dusty" after the Glastonbury incident.
In the message, Ashley said: "Lee did try and keep the peace. Lee said to Wally, lad just leave it. Wally just done whatever. I didn’t see it, I weren't there.”
Mr Davis said: "Importantly Ashley confirms Sean would speak to Lee. Lee stood up for him. These are the circumstances from which Sean Zeisz is meant to have wanted his friend dead. The Crown’s case simply does not make sense."
He also addressed the jury on evidence that further issues with Thompson emerged after the suicide of Zeisz's friend Rikki Warnick on July 21, and rumours that Mr Warnick was "bullied" by Thompson before his death.
He suggested that despite learning that his ex girlfriend was seeing the man who he believed had bullied his friend into suicide, Zeisz threatened to do nothing more than break the windows of Ms McDowell's car.
Mr Davis said: "At the moment of his greatest grief. That’s it. It’s not great. It’s petty, it’s mean but it is said in high emotion. That’s the height of what he wants done. Break her windscreen.
"There is no hint of shoot up his house or shoot them. Nothing but smash her window. It’s almost childish, petty in the extreme. That’s his level. He’s petty in high emotion, no more than that."
Referring to threatening and abusive messages sent to Ms McDowell, including to "cut her t*** off", Mr Davis said: "Disgusting, vile and mean but petty and childish also. A man scorned. A man betrayed, in his mind, and his nose rubbed in it with a man he blames for the death of his dear friend. It’s all about Dusty, not Ashley, not Lee."
He suggested the messages were "like a boy on the playground pulling a girl’s pigtails", but that no harm was caused to her or to Thompson.
He told the jury: "Mr Zeisz had beef with one person alone, and that was Dusty. No beef with Lee. No falling out with Lee. No evidence for the falling out with Lee. Leinster Road? Ashley? It’s just nonsense.
"That’s not who he had beef with. He was drinking there a couple of weeks before, no issue. It just doesn’t make sense. There’s no involvement of any gun for Sean Zeisz. no evidence."
Witham, of Ashbury Road in Huyton, Zeisz, of Longreach Road in Huyton, Barry, of Moscow Drive in Tuebrook, Peers, of Woodlands Road in Roby, and Fitzgibbon, of Heigham Gardens in St Helens, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Ashley Dale, conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, namely a Skorpion submachine gun, and ammunition with intent to endanger life. Witham has admitted the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Radford, of Trentham Road in Kirkby – denies assisting an offender. The trial, before Mr Justice Goose, continues.