This is the chilling moment a shotgun-wielding killer waited nearly 10 hours outside the home of an innocent father-of-two before squirting his face and pouring acid on his body after his girlfriend lied that he raped her on a Tinder date. .
Drug dealer Michael Hillier tracked down Liam Smith, 38, at his home in Wigan, Greater Manchester last November in connection with a depraved murder plot hatched by him and his girlfriend Rachel Fulstow.
Hillier, 39, said he was acting out of revenge after his girlfriend Fulstow told him she had been raped by Mr Smith years earlier on a Tinder date. She did not go to the police and instead the pair decided to seek ‘vigilant justice’ by planning Mr Smith’s death over a 10 month period.
After the horrific murder, Hillier and Fulstow, 37, went on a two-week vacation to Jamaica in a bid to escape justice.
When the killers returned home, the net began to close. Hillier was arrested and Fulstow was initially treated as a witness before becoming a suspect after repeatedly lying to police during her interview.
Both Hillier and Fulstow have now been unanimously convicted of murder after a six-week trial at Minshull Street Crown Court.
Rachel Fulstow, 37 (pictured) from Andrew Drive, York, told the court she met Mr Smith in September 2019, after hooking up through the dating app Tinder She was today found guilty of his murder
Liam Smith, 38, was shot in the face and then had acid sprayed on him outside his home in Wigan, Greater Manchester on November 24 last year.
Michael Hillier, 39, (pictured), admitted to the manslaughter of electrician Liam Smith, 38, but has now been found guilty of his murder
Hillier, who was handcuffed in the dock, watched his former partner as the verdicts were handed down.
Two jurors appeared in tears after returning to court after six hours and 44 minutes of deliberations.
The court heard Fulstow met Mr Smith on the dating app Tinder and the pair went on a date in York in 2019, when she said they had ‘non-consensual ’ in a hotel in York.
She did not describe it as rape and said she went to lunch with Mr Smith the next day, the court heard.
In 2021, she began a relationship with Hillier, but said he could be verbally abusive and unpredictable and that she was not happy to have had a one-night stand with Mr. Smith.
She told the court the first time she learned of the attack on Mr Smith was when Hillier showed up at her house the next morning and told her.
Fulstow, an international travel and tourism management graduate from Leeds Met University, said she was “petrified” about going to the police about her boyfriend.
The court heard that the couple went on vacation to Jamaica together a few days after the murder.
Mr Smith’s family shouted ‘yes’ and ‘thank you very much’ before sobbing and hugging as the jury found the two defendants guilty of murder on Wednesday.
Police were pictured at the scene last year on Kilburn Drive in Shevington, Wigan, Greater Manchester.
Mr Smith’s body was discovered in a village on the outskirts of Wigan on November 24, 2022.
Hillier, who told the court he was involved in a large-scale cannabis operation, said they both planned the attack on Mr Smith after Fulstow revealed she had been ‘graphically raped ” by him.
He told the jury: “We decided together that we would handle the case ourselves, seek justice ourselves and go the vigilante route. »
The public gallery of the court was cleared during his testimony as members of Mr Smith’s family reacted to his description of the victim as a rapist.
Judge Maurice Greene told jurors they did not need to decide what happened between Mr Smith and Fulstow.
During his summary, he said: “As for what really happened that night, we will probably never know and it probably does not matter. »
The court heard that Mr Smith was lured from his home around 6.40pm by Hillier, who shot him in the face before pouring acid on his face and body, followed by soda crystals.
Phone evidence recovered showed that Fulstow conducted several internet searches in the days following the murder, first for information about the murder, then for the meaning of the words “premeditated” and “acid corrodes.” it stainless steel”.
On the morning of the murder, she checked the weather in Wigan, the court heard.
Fulstow was also convicted on a charge of perverting the course of justice.
The case was adjourned for sentencing tomorrow.
Police said his body could have been covered in ‘dangerous substances’
Rebecca Macaulay-Addison, from CPS North West’s Complex Cases Unit, said: “Hillier and Fulstow planned the brutal murder of Liam Smith and tried to cover their tracks every step of the way.
“Far from being consumed with guilt over the murder, the two men flew to Jamaica on vacation for two weeks.
“The CPS worked with Greater Manchester Police to gather the evidence, including eyewitness accounts, CCTV, extensive mobile phone evidence and medical evidence, to put together a strong case to present to the jury. The jury agreed with the prosecution and found them both guilty of murder.
“I hope Liam’s family and friends find some comfort in knowing that his killers have been brought to justice. My thoughts remain with them.