A York woman who plotted the “brutal and cold-blooded murder” of an electrician along with her former boyfriend has been jailed.
Father-of-two Liam Smith, 38, was shot in the face and then covered in acid after being lured outside his home in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on November 24 last year.
Rachel Fulstow, 37, who had met Mr Smith through dating app Tinder three years earlier, was convicted of his murder, as well as a charge of perverting the course of justice, on Wednesday following a trial.
Michael Hillier, 39, who had been in a relationship with Fulstow since 2021, was also found guilty of the murder, having admitted manslaughter.
Mr Smith’s family shouted “monsters” as the pair left the dock after Fulstow, who was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court on Thursday.
Hillier was jailed for at least 33 years.
The trial heard Fulstow had met Mr Smith in York in 2019.
She said they had “non-consensual sex” at a hotel, but she did not describe it as rape.
Hillier, of Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, told the court that in early 2022 his then-girlfriend confided in him she was “graphically raped” by Mr Smith and together they decided to “go down the vigilante route” to “seek justice”.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Maurice Greene said whatever happened on the night appeared to be the underlying motive for the attack.
He said: “It was decided between you, you would execute your own vengeance.
“The two of you decided to act as judge, jury and executioner.”
He described the murder as “brutal and cold-blooded”.
Addressing university graduate Fulstow, the judge said it was “almost incomprehensible” that she had acted the way she had.
He added: “Whatever happened between you and Liam Smith can never be justification for what you and Michael Hillier did.”
As the pair were taken down, Mr Smith’s sister, Gemma, shouted from the public gallery: “You lying, murdering bitch. Liam has done nothing wrong, he’s completely innocent.”
As he left the dock, Hillier, in handcuffs, said: “Your boy’s a rapist.”
Hillier, who said he was concerned in the production and distribution of a large-scale cannabis operation, had admitted driving to Mr Smith’s home on Kilburn Drive, Shevington, on November 24 and waiting outside in a Mitsubishi Shogun with false number plates.
Just before 7pm he lured Mr Smith out of the house and shot him with a modified shotgun, pouring acid and then soda crystals over him, the court heard.
Fulstow claimed she knew nothing of the attack until Hillier arrived at her house in Andrew Drive, York, and was “petrified” to go to the police.
But the court heard in the days after the killing the couple went on holiday to Jamaica together.
In a statement read to the court, Mr Smith’s mother, Julia Smith, said he was a “devoted father” to his sons, aged 11 and 14, and a “gentleman”.
She told the court: “We are never going to be able to fill this massive void which has been left in our lives.”
Louise Blackwell KC, defending Hillier, said he would not have carried out the attack were it not for his drug addiction and the influence of Fulstow.
She said: “Of course, Mr Hillier took the lead role in the sense that he went and he was the person who carried out the acts but it was under pressure from Fulstow.”
Howard Bernstein, representing Fulstow, said the evidence against her showed her role was to provide information about Mr Smith and an alibi for Hillier.
But, he said the evidence was not inconsistent with her not knowing that her co-defendant had a gun and acid.