A COUNCIL worker was shot dead after a row at Glastonbury Festival reignited a feud, a court has heard.

Ashley Dale, 28, was hit in the abdomen by a bullet from a machine gun at her home in Old Swan, Liverpool, on August 21, 2022.

Opening the trial of five men accused of her murder at Liverpool Crown Court, Paul Greaney KC said: “She was shot deliberately and, indeed, mercilessly by a man who entered her home intending to kill.”

He told the court Miss Dale had attended Glastonbury festival in June with her boyfriend Lee Harrison.

Four of the men accused of her murder – Sean Zeisz, 28, Niall Barry, 26, Ian Fitzgibbon, 28 and James Witham, 41 – were also there.

The jury heard Zeisz was assaulted at the festival and his attackers included a man called Jordan Thompson.

Following the assault, Zeisz’s girlfriend Olivia McDowell stayed with Mr Thompson, Miss Dale and Mr Harrison, compounding Zeisz’s “loss of face”, Mr Greaney said.

The court heard that in the following weeks, Barry sided with Zeisz as he already had a “longstanding antagonism” towards Mr Harrison, who Mr Greaney said appeared to be involved in a “world of criminality”.

Mr Greaney added: “Niall Barry used these new events at Glastonbury to reignite that old feud.”

He said on August 20, Fitzgibbon, Zeisz and Barry dispatched “foot soldiers” Witham and the fifth defendant – Joseph Peers, 29 – armed with a Skorpion sub-machine gun to kill Mr Harrison at his home and “to deal with anyone that got in their way, leaving behind no witnesses”.

Ashley was at the couple’s home on Leinster Road with her dog on the night of the attack, while Mr Harrison was out.

Witham walked upstairs and into a bedroom, where he fired five bullets into the wall. He did that, the prosecution suggests, to send a firm message to Lee Harrison that he had been the principal target of this attack

The jury was told Witham admitted the manslaughter of Miss Dale, but said he shot her by accident in the early hours of August 21 having gone to “send a message” to Mr Harrison following a dispute about drug dealing in North Wales.

The court heard Peers allegedly drove the gunman to the address.

Voice recordings which the prosecution said were sent by Miss Dale to friends in the weeks leading up to her death were played to the court, including one in which she said she had “terrible anxiety”.

In one message she said that while at Glastonbury, Barry had produced a “big knife” to Fitzgibbon and, referring to Mr Harrison by his nickname, said: “Where’s Saz, he’s getting stabbed up.”

She told friends Barry had fallen out with Mr Harrison a few years ago and was “on some pure rampage”.

Witham, of Huyton; Fitzgibbon, of St Helens; Zeisz of Huyton; Barry of Tuebrook; and Peers of Roby – all Merseyside – deny murder.

They also deny conspiracy to murder Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, a Skorpion sub-machine gun, and ammunition.

Kallum Radford, 25, of no fixed address, denies assisting an offender.