A DEVASTATED family have shared an emotional tribute after a former couple were jailed for murdering Wigan dad-of-two Liam Smith.

At the trial at Manchester's Minshull Crown Court, it was told how 38-year-old Liam Smith was shot in the face and covered in acid after being lured outside his home in Shevington last November.

The "brutal and cold-blooded" murder was carried out by 39-year-old Michael Hillier, from Sheffield, and Rachel Fulstow, 37, from York, who were given life sentences with minimum terms of more than 30 years.

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Leigh Journal: Michael Hillier and Rachel FulstowMichael Hillier and Rachel Fulstow (Image: GMP)

The trial heard how the pair planned "vengeance" on Mr Smith after Fulstow claimed she had "non-consensual sex" at a York hotel following a Tinder date in 2019.

Hillier, who was in a relationship with Fulstow since 2021, told the court that they decided to "go down the vigilante route" to "seek justice" after he alleged his partner was "graphically raped".

In the courtroom, Mr Smith's family shouted "monsters" at the pair and said he is "completely innocent".

Leigh Journal: Liam Smith was lured outside of his home and killed on November 24Liam Smith was lured outside of his home and killed on November 24 (Image: GMP)

Detective Inspector Lee Shaw of GMP's Major Incident Team, read out a statement following the conclusion of court which was prepared by Liam's family.

Liam's family said: "Liam was more than just a family member to us, he was our rock, OUR Liam.

"He had the biggest and most kind-hearted soul and would literally do anything for anyone.

"But we are always asking ourselves why did this happen to Liam? Why do his two boys now have to live with the knowledge that their loving father was taken away from them in the most barbaric of circumstances?

"Liam’s two boys were his biggest legacy. He was genuinely the best dad ever and everything he did in life was for his two boys.

"Liam cannot watch his two beautiful children grow up and experience their own life milestones - to see them as adults and to be a grandad. He would have been the best grandad ever, spoiling his grandkids absolutely rotten.

"Liam will never get to do the things that fathers and sons should do – taking them off to college, taking them for their first legal pint whilst watching them both become adults.

"His name has been tainted throughout this trial – and that wasn’t him, it is not our Liam. He has been denied the chance to publicly clear his name.

"Liam’s life wasn’t the only one that was destroyed that night. Everyone who knew and loved Liam have been left completely heartbroken, devastated and traumatised by the events that happened on the 24 November. It has been a living nightmare for us all – something which we would never wish on any other family.

"Unless your loved one has been murdered, you will never understand the magnitude of our feelings. Other humans have taken his life, other humans are the cause of this loss and pain and we will never get over this."