Woman at centre of Tinder date acid murder plot denies any involvement in attack

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Liam Smith, 38, had been lured from his home and shot in the face, a court heard (Image: MEN MEDIA)
Liam Smith, 38, had been lured from his home and shot in the face, a court heard (Image: MEN MEDIA)

A woman accused of helping to plot the murder of a man she went on a Tinder date with has denied any knowledge that her new boyfriend was about to shoot and attack him with acid.

Rachel Fulstow, 37, said the first she knew 38-year-old Liam Smith had come to harm was when her boyfriend Michael Hillier, 39, turned up at her house in York after the fatal attack. Mr Smith had been lured from his home in Wigan, shot in the face then had sulphuric acid poured over him as he lay dying, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.

The father-of-two was declared dead at the scene, last November 24. His death was allegedly prompted by a "one-night stand" between him and Fulstow, at a York hotel in 2019, which angered her new boyfriend Hillier - who she met more than a year later, the trial has heard.

Hillier has admitted the manslaughter of Mr Smith but denies murder along with Fulstow, who denies helping her boyfriend carry out the murder plot. The jury heard Hillier was "led to believe" the one-night stand was rape.

Woman at centre of Tinder date acid murder plot denies any involvement in attack rriddqixxiqezinvRachel Fulstow, 37, denies murder (GMP)

Fulstow, giving evidence from the witness box in her defence, said she met Mr Smith through Tinder and he travelled to York to meet up in September 2019. She said they went out and got drunk and they ended up having sex - but she said it was not consensual.

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Michael Hayton KC, defending, asked her why she went for lunch with him the next day. Fulstow said she did not regard the episode as "rape" and would not call it that. She said: "He apologised, we spoke about it and I accepted that and we carried on. It was non-consensual but that is not the word [rape] I have used or have ever used. I just wanted to forget about it."

Around 15 months later, she met Hillier on the dating app Hinge, the court heard. But she said there were problems in their relationship, with Hillier being verbally abusive, moody, unpredictable and suffering mental health issues.

Woman at centre of Tinder date acid murder plot denies any involvement in attackPolice at the scene last November (MEN Media)

He was also a heavy user of diazapam, she said and was not happy she had the one-night stand with Mr Smith as this was "not classy" and it was something he kept bringing up. But Fulstow, an international travel and tourism management graduate from Leeds Met University - who also worked for a property management company, said she had no knowledge Hillier was planning to harm Mr Smith.

The first she knew was when Hillier turned up at her home after Mr Smith's death, she said. Mr Hayton asked her: "We know you did not contact the police to tell them about the violence Mr Smith had been subject to. Why not?"

Fulstow replied: "Because I was terrified of telling the police. Because I was petrified. Of Mike." Mr Hayton continued: "Were you involved in the killing of Liam Smith?" Fulstow replied: "No."

Fulstow, from York, and Hillier, from Sheffield, deny murder. Fulstow also denies a single count of perverting the course of justice. The trial was adjourned until this morning.

Katie Weston

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