Couple who carefully plotted and then murdered Liam Smith in November 2022, sentenced to a total of 63 years in prison.
Michael Hillier (25/02/1984) of Ecclesall Road, Sheffield has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Rachel Fulstow (24/01/1986) of Andrew Drive, Huntington has been found guilty of murder and also perverting the course of justice and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Liam was found by members of the public on Kilburn Drive in Shevington the night of 24 November 2022. Police, alongside colleagues from the fire service and the ambulance service, were in attendance. It was quickly established that Liam had suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the face, It’s now known and proven that Hillier then drove around the block and got out of his vehicle before pouring acid onto Liam’s body.
GMP’s Major Incident Team detectives established during their lengthy investigation that the preparation for Liam’s murder started in May 2022. Rachel searched Liam on the internet and Hillier purchased guns online, practicing his aim by shooting in his cellar.
The court heard how Fulstow also searched the internet for Liam’s business, his address and searched phrases like ‘what is premeditated’, looked for Mitsubishi Shogun vehicles and the length of time it takes to burn a car completely.
Hillier travelled from Sheffield to Wigan on 2 November 2022, a full three weeks before Liam’s murder, and carried out hostile reconnaissance on Liam’s address. Hillier lay in wait in a Mitsubishi Shogun fixed with cloned plates before heading back to Sheffield. All whilst Liam went about his daily business, unaware he was under Hillier’s watch.
Hillier did not return to Liam’s address until 24 November where he waited for 10 hours in the same Mitsubishi Shogun on R22 ORA plates until he got out of his vehicle in a high vis jacket and head torch and walked up to Liam’s home to lure him out at around 6.30pm.
Seized R22 ORA plates
Liam came out of his house a few moments later to see who was outside his house and turned left out of his drive to be met with Hillier inside the Shogun armed with a shotgun. CCTV from a nearby address picks up the audio sound of one gunshot which proved to be fatal for Liam.
Hillier drove around the block and took time to get chemicals out of his vehicle to pour onto Liam’s body; these chemicals were later confirmed as sulphuric acid and soda crystals.
Michael Hillier was arrested on suspicion of murder in January 2022 and Rachel Fulstow in February 2022.
Detective Chief Inspector Gina Brennand of GMP’s Major Incident Team, said: “My thoughts and the thoughts of the investigation team will always remain with Liam’s family. They will never ever get over this tragedy, nor should they be expected to, and the actions of Michael and Rachel were nothing short of despicable.
“On the night of Liam’s murder, police and other emergency services were working incredibly hard to try and ascertain the facts. It was unclear what had happened to Liam that night and it was very concerning for local residents.
“The investigation involved hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and phone records which were carefully filtered through by officers. I’d like to thank members of the public for responding to our appeals with information and footage, your assistance has helped us build a timeline of events prior to Liam’s death and has been crucial for helping us get to this outcome today.
“No sentence will ever be enough to reflect the despicable attack on a much-loved family man but we do hope the sentences bring some comfort to Liam’s family; that these two individuals will spend the majority of their lives behind bars to be constantly reminded of consequences of their actions.”