Witnesses ‘heard tyres screeching before seeing Ashley Dale lying in her back garden’

Witnesses heard tyres screeching before spotting Ashley Dale lying dead in her back yard, a court has heard.

Inquests have opened into the 28-year-old environmental health officer’s death alongside nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel and 22-year-old Sam Rimme.

Ms Dale was killed when a gunman forced open her front door and opened fire “indiscriminately”.

Merseyside Police do not believe she was the intended target, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Gerard Majella Courthouse heard how a Home Office pathologist recorded Miss Dale’s medical cause of death as a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Andre Rebello, senior coroner for Liverpool and Wirral, told the coroner’s court: “At 12.41am on August 21 a concerned member of the public contacted Merseyside Police advising that there was a female lying on her back on the floor of the back-yard of her home address in Leinster Road.

“Officers attended and noted that the front door had been forced.

“They entered the house to conduct a search and found the back door was open and insecure. Ashley was located lying on her back unresponsive.”

What appeared to be a puncture wound to her front was visible, he said, and a mobile phone was located near to where she had collapsed.

The court heard several bullet casings were found at the property and no-one else was present at the house when officers arrived.

House-to-house enquiries were conducted, which saw witnesses report hearing loud bangs and a vehicle “screeching off” around the time of the killing.

Police officers attempted CPR until paramedics took over, but Miss Dale was pronounced dead at the Royal Liverpool Hospital at 1.48am.

A murder investigation was then sparked and, but so far there have been no charges brought.

Mr Rebello added: “Merseyside Police have launched a homicide investigation and although there has been arrests made no charges have been brought.

“I understand that Merseyside Police would be very grateful to any members of the public who can give any information to assist the apprehension of whoever was responsible for Ashley being fatally wounded.”

He described finding the killer as key to helping Miss Dale’s family through a “very difficult bereavement journey”.

The 28-year-old’s body has now been returned to her family to allow her them to make funeral arrangements and say their final goodbyes to her.

Mr Rebello said Ashley’s body no longer needed to be kept back for forensic reasons and released her to allow her family to lay her to rest. The inquest was adjourned until January 4 next year.

Merseyside Police have so far arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of Ms Dale’s killing and a 21-year-old woman on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Both have been released on conditional bail pending further enquiries.