A man denies murder but admits manslaughter in vigilante attack

A 39-year-old man from Sheffield, Michael Hillier, has denied the charge of murder but has admitted to the manslaughter of Liam Smith. The incident occurred when Hillier drove to Wigan, Greater Manchester, to carry out a fatal “vigilante” attack. Hillier described himself as a “knight in shining armor” and alleges that he and his girlfriend, Rachel Fulstow, plotted the attack because she claimed that Smith had raped her at a hotel in 2019.

Hillier testified in court that he and Fulstow decided to take matters into their own hands and seek justice themselves since only 1.6% of reported rape cases make it to court. He stated that Fulstow saw him as her knight in shining armor. Hillier modified a blank firing gun but believed it would only stun and not seriously injure or kill. On the day of the attack, Fulstow packed Hillier a lunchbox with supplies, including diazepam, hydration tablets, and headache tablets.

Hillier drove to Kilburn Drive in Shevington, where Smith lived, and waited all day outside his home. When Smith approached Hillier’s vehicle, Hillier opened the door and confronted him, calling him a “vile, disgusting rapist.” Shortly after, Hillier pulled the trigger, believing Smith to be unconscious, and poured drain cleaner over him. After burning out his car, Hillier returned to Fulstow’s home in York, where he learned that Smith had died. Fulstow denies persuading Hillier to carry out the attack and claims that their sexual encounter with Smith was not consensual but not considered rape.

During the trial, the public gallery was cleared as members of Smith’s family reacted angrily to Hillier’s claims. The trial continues, and Hillier faces charges of manslaughter.