A man has been found guilty of the murder of Elle Edwards, who died after being shot outside a Wirral pub on Christmas Eve.
Connor Chapman, 23, fired 12 shots from a Skorpion pistol into a group of people outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey Village, Wirral, Merseyside, shortly before midnight on December 24 last year. Beautician Elle, 26, was shot dead while five others were injured.
Today (Thursday July 6), Chapman was convicted of her murder, and seven other counts, following a three-and-a-half week trial at Liverpool Crown Court. Co-defendant Thomas Waring, 20, was found guilty of the possession of a prohibited firearm and assisting an offender by helping to burn out the stolen Mercedes used in the shooting.
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Ms Edwards’ father, Tim, said the conviction meant the family could start going forward. He said: “It just means he’s off the streets, someone else is not going to suffer at the hands of him. Unfortunately Elle was his last victim but thankfully she will be the last person he does anything to and he can go fade away.”
The trial heard the attack was the culmination of a feud between groups on the Woodchurch and Beechwood estates, on either side of the M53 in Wirral. The prosecution alleged Chapman was attempting to kill Kieran Salkeld and Jake Duffy, both of whom were seriously injured in the shooting.
The pair, from the Beechwood estate, had attacked another man, Sam Searson, in the street the day before, the court heard. Three other men: Harry Loughran, Liam Carr and Nicholas Speed; who were unconnected to the feud, were also injured in the shooting.
The jury heard Chapman lay in wait outside the pub in a stolen Mercedes for almost three hours before firing the weapon, which the court heard was capable of firing 15 rounds a second. Chapman told the jury he had not been using the vehicle, which he described as a “pool car” for him and other criminals, on the night of the murder but had given the car key to another man, whom he refused to name.
CCTV footage showed the gunman drive away from the Lighthouse in the moments after the shooting and then arrive at Private Drive in Barnston, the home address of co-defendant Waring. The man, with long hair, was seen in the footage appearing to drop the gun as he walked towards Waring’s home.
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Chapman admitted a charge of handling stolen goods before the trial started and told the jury on December 31 he had travelled with the unnamed man who took the car key when the Mercedes was burnt out in Frodsham, Cheshire. He denied that Waring had been with him, although cell site evidence showed Waring’s phone travelled with the car.
Senior investigating officer in the case, Detective Superintendent Paul Grounds, described Chapman as a “dangerous and ruthless individual”. He said: “Connor Chapman knew exactly what he was doing when he left his home address on December 24, getting in a stolen car in possession of a Skorpion machine pistol.
“He drove to the Lighthouse pub where he spent a number of hours there before finding a car parking space that gave him a real clear view of who was outside. He then left his car with no regard for anybody else, intent on firing that gun at his intended targets, Kieran Salkeld and Jake Duffy, with not a care of what would happen to anybody else who was stood outside of the pub.”
Chapman was also found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, as well as possession of a Skorpion sub-machine gun with intent to endanger life and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Chapman and Waring will be sentenced at 2pm on Friday, July 7.