Enough is enough. That is the message from Knowsley Council’s Leader, Cllr Graham Morgan, following a spate of gun and knife crime that has impacted significantly on communities in Knowsley.
Ashley Dale was a well-liked and much respected 28-year-old Knowsley Council employee. She had recently been promoted in an Environmental Health role and had a future full of potential. But she was shot and killed – despite police believing she was not the intended target – in her own home in the early hours of Sunday morning (21 August) in Old Swan. An appeal is underway to find her killer. Ashley’s family, her colleagues and the local community have been left stunned by this incident.
The following day, Karen Dempsey, aged 55 years, was fatally stabbed outside the Brambles pub on Cherryfield Drive in Kirkby. It is understood that Karen was trying to intervene in a violent incident involving two men. Karen was a mother and grandmother as well as a well-respected leader of a community group in Kirkby. Her loss will have an impact on all those who knew and loved her, and also on the many people who she had helped through her voluntary work. Two arrests have since been made in connection with her death in another senseless killing. Subsequently, a 32-year-old man from Kirkby has been charged with her murder.
Also on Monday 22 August, there was another victim – this time aged just nine years old. Olivia Pratt-Korbell was shot and killed by an intruder at her home in Knotty Ash. Olivia attended St Margaret Mary’s Catholic Junior School in Knowsley, where her Head Teacher described her as a “bubbly, kind hearted and a much loved” child. Olivia’s tragic and untimely death has devastated everyone who knew her – including all connected with her school and in her local community. It has also sent shockwaves around the country.
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said “These incidents in isolation are heart-breaking – but to see three completely innocent lives lost to such violence in just two days is extremely difficult to comprehend.
“Enough is enough – it just has to be. These are truly horrendous incidents, and innocent people are literally getting caught in the crossfire.”
And he appealed directly to those involved in criminality to search their hearts and stop more lives being lost, and more families devastated.
He said: “Perhaps you carry a weapon, and maybe you tell yourself it’s for ‘self-defence’. Or maybe you’re involved in the drugs supply chain. Whatever role you play, you’re supporting and enabling the kinds of criminal gangs and criminal activity which are devastating lives. When a weapon is present, lives are more easily lost. Please, stop and think about the harm and pain that you are causing to so many people.”
Cllr Morgan also appealed to anyone who has information about any of the incidents which may help bring those responsible to justice.
“Now is not the time to be silent. There are people out there who know who shot Ashley and Olivia and the only right thing to do is to share what you know. Give those families a chance to get the answers they need and the justice they deserve.”
“Both Ashley and Olivia were killed in their own homes – the place where they should have been safe. Can you really have it on your conscience that these two innocent young people have lost their lives – that parents will be burying their children – and all because of criminal activity they had no involvement in?”
“I’m also acutely aware that a family in Kirkby are mourning the loss of a mother and a grandmother – a death that would not have happened if someone had not chosen to go out that night with a knife.
“My heart goes out to everyone who has been impacted by these three tragedies, especially the loved ones of the victims. This needless loss of life must stop. Enough is enough. You have a choice – don’t carry a weapon and show these people the door – we should shun everybody involved in the criminal behaviours which are blighting our lives.”
If you do have any information about Ashley or Olivia’s murders, please share any information through the online portal, or by calling Merseyside Police on 101, via social media @MerPolCC or you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.