Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

Woman found guilty of murdering man after ‘non-consensual sex’ on Tinder date

A woman has been found guilty of murdering a man after they had “non-consensual sex” on a Tinder date.

Liam Smith, 38, was shot in the face and then doused in acid outside his home in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on November 24 last year – by Rachel Fulstow and her then-boyfriend Michael Hillier.

Hillier, 39, from Sheffield, denied murdering the electrician, telling Minshull Street Crown Court he and Fulstow, 37, both planned to attack him after Fulstow claimed he had raped her.

Fulstow, who worked for a property management company, denied knowing Hillier had planned to harm him.

Mr Smith’s family shouted “yes” and “thank you so much” before sobbing and hugging as the jury found both defendants guilty of murder on Wednesday (August 23).

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Hillier, who appeared in the dock wearing handcuffs, glared at his former partner as the verdicts were returned.

Two jurors looked tearful on coming back to court after six hours and 44 minutes of deliberations.

The court heard Fulstow met Mr Smith on dating app Tinder and the pair went on a date in York in 2019, when she claimed they had “non-consensual sex” at a hotel in the city.

Jurors heard she did not describe it as rape and said she went for lunch with Mr Smith the next day.

She began a relationship with Hillier in 2021, but said he could be verbally abusive and unpredictable and was unhappy she had a one-night stand with Mr Smith.

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She told the court the first she knew of the attack on Mr Smith was when Hillier turned up at her house the morning after and told her.

Fulstow, an international travel and tourism management graduate from Leeds Met University, said she was “petrified” to go to the police about her boyfriend.

The court heard the couple went on holiday to Jamaica together days after the killing.

Hillier, who told the court he was concerned in the production and distribution of a large-scale cannabis operation, said they had both planned the attack on Mr Smith after Fulstow disclosed she had been “graphically raped” by him.

He told the jury: “We decided jointly between the two of us that we would deal with the matter ourselves and seek justice ourselves and go down the vigilante route.”

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The court’s public gallery was cleared during his evidence 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 summing up, he said: “As to what really happened on that night we will probably never know and it probably doesn’t matter.”

The court heard Mr Smith was lured out of his house at about 6.40pm by Hillier, who shot him in the face before pouring acid onto his face and body, followed by soda crystals.

Fulstow’s phone showed she had made internet searches of Mr Smith’s electrical company and Mitsubishi Shogun cars, like the one used by Hillier and later burned out.

The court heard that on the morning of the killing, she checked the weather in Wigan.

Fulstow was also found guilty of a charge of perverting the course of justice.

Detective Chief Inspector Gina Brennand from Greater Manchester Police, said: “This case has shown a number of complexities throughout, with Liam’s name being tainted in the process, and him not being here to defend himself against accusations has been really difficult for the family to hear in court.”

She added: “Our thoughts, as always, remain with Liam’s family through this devastating time.”

Hillier and Fulstow are due to be sentenced on Thursday (August 24).

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