Liam Smith murder: Sheffield man Michael Hillier and ex guilty of fatal attack over Tinder date sex

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Michael Hillier told the court he considered himself a 'knight in shining armour' for killing Liam Smith.

A Sheffield man and his ex-girlfriend have been found guilty of murdering a man and pouring acid over him.

Liam Smith, aged 38, was shot in the face and then had acid poured over him outside his home in WiganGreater Manchester, on November 24 last year.

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Michael Hillier, 39, from Sheffield, admitted manslaughter but denied murdering the electrician, telling Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester he and his then girlfriend Rachel Fulstow, 37, both planned to attack Mr Smith after Fulstow claimed he had raped her.

Michael Hillier, 39, from Sheffield, and his former girlfriend Rachel Fulstow, 37, have been convicted of murdering Liam Smith after she claimed the electrician had raped her in 2019.Michael Hillier, 39, from Sheffield, and his former girlfriend Rachel Fulstow, 37, have been convicted of murdering Liam Smith after she claimed the electrician had raped her in 2019.
Michael Hillier, 39, from Sheffield, and his former girlfriend Rachel Fulstow, 37, have been convicted of murdering Liam Smith after she claimed the electrician had raped her in 2019. | Greater Manchester Police

Fulstow, who worked for a property management company, also denied murder, claiming she had not known her then-partner had planned to harm Mr Smith.

Mr Smith's family shouted "yes" and "thank you so much" before sobbing and hugging as the jury found both defendants guilty of murder today.

Hillier, who was handcuffed in the dock, stared over at his former partner as the verdicts were returned.

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Liam Smith 38, was shot in the face and then had acid poured over him outside his home in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on November 24 last year. (Photo supplied by Greater Manchester Police)Liam Smith 38, was shot in the face and then had acid poured over him outside his home in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on November 24 last year. (Photo supplied by Greater Manchester Police)
Liam Smith 38, was shot in the face and then had acid poured over him outside his home in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on November 24 last year. (Photo supplied by Greater Manchester Police) | Greater Manchester Police

Two jurors appeared tearful after 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 said they had "non-consensual sex" at a hotel in York.

She did not describe it as rape and said she went for lunch with Mr Smith the following day, the court heard.

In 2021 she began a relationship with Hillier but said he could be verbally abusive and unpredictable and was not happy 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 following morning 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.

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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."

The public gallery in court 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."

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Hillier also had to be removed from court after interrupting the judge's summing up.

Judge Maurice Greene reminded the jury of Fulstow's evidence about sex with Mr Smith, which she said she did not consider to be rape.

Speaking from the dock, Hillier said: "It's not sex, it's rape. What sort of message does that send out? Sex is consensual, rape isn't."

He was removed from the dock by security officers.

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.

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

On the morning of the killing, she checked the weather in Wigan, the court heard.

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

The case was adjourned for sentencing on Thursday.