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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Jonathan Humphries & Adam Everett

The day Connor Chapman refused to come into court during his murder trial

Connor Chapman refused to come into court midway through his cross-examination, the ECHO can reveal.

The 23-year-old was yesterday found guilty of murdering Elle Edwards following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. The popular beautician was shot dead outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey, Wirral, on Christmas Eve last year.

It can now be reported that Chapman failed to appear in the dock on Thursday last week as he was due to give evidence from the witness box for a third day. At that time, he had been part way through being questioned by prosecutor Nigel Power KC.

READ MORE: Shocking CCTV shows Chapman opening fire with submachine gun outside Lighthouse pub

Mark Rhind KC, defending, was given special dispensation to visit his client in the cells by trial judge Mr Justice Goose. This is ordinarily forbidden while a defendant is still on the stand.

In court, he reported that there were concerns from security officers about Chapman's "state of health". The category A prisoner at HMP Manchester was said to have been living off instant noodles during the trial and claimed to have not been given his anti-depressants.

In the absence of the jury, Mr Rhind described him as "very subdued and unresponsive" and said he had remained in the cells "not speaking and lying under a blanket". He added: "Today he has been very subdued and unresponsive, and upon arrival he has been in his cell not speaking and lying under a blanket.

"He’s complained of not having his medication and not having eaten. For the last four months, he has been on anti-depressants.

"Mr Chapman told me this is for his mood and to help him sleep. He did not appear well to me.

"He tells me he does not feel able to continue giving evidence, and he would not be able to come up to court and continue being questioned. He wants to carry on giving evidence, but isn't able to.

"He tells me he’s not had any of his medication for a week plus in this trial. He has been unable to get it, leaving at five in the morning and arriving back at seven in the evening.

"He’s not eaten for the last few days. What happens is a hot meal is simply placed in his cell, and of late there has been vermin in it when he has got it.

"He’s been unable to eat that and has been living off noodles. Obviously matters have taken a turn for the worse over the last week or so."

Mr Rhind said that Chapman "felt he would be able to continue" the following Monday, July 3. He added: "How he appeared and spoke to me is much more subdued than I’ve ever seen him in any interaction during this trial."

Justice Goose then retired to make further enquiries in the prison. After a short break, he returned with "further information".

The judge was told that Chapman received his medication weekly on Saturday mornings and had not attended for his collection on July 24. He also stated this was a "very low dose, only to help him sleep" and was still "seen on a daily basis by a nurse" but had made no complaints.

Justice Goose further adjourned the case until after the court's dinner break to allow Mr Rhind to have a further conference. Following this, the defence silk again addressed the court and stated that his client "had to be asked to go to healthcare" by prison staff and that this had not happened the previous Saturday.

Mr Rhind said: "He remains unable to continue with his evidence and is unable to come up to court. He tells me he does not feel he answer questions properly.

"He still wishes to continue with his evidence and answer all questions - he is not refusing. The situation seems to be there is contrary information from different sources.

"The position seems to be, at the moment, that he is unfit. For the sake of a couple of hours of evidence this afternoon, the better option would be to give Mr Chapman the weekend and see if he’s in a better position on Monday morning.

"If he’s not, it’s a completely different complexion. At this stage, it would be too early to draw a conclusion that he is refusing to continue with the case.

“It will have been an extremely draining experience for him. This appears to have come to a head."

Justice Goose then agreed that the case should be adjourned until the following week, with the case having not been scheduled to sit on the Friday. Chapman did belatedly return to the witness box on the Monday.

Chapman - of Houghton Road in Woodchurch - was convicted of murder after three hours and 48 minutes of deliberations and following a three-and-a-half week trial. He was also found guilty of attempting to murder Kieran Salkeld and Jake Duffy, wounding with intent against Jake Duffy and Harry Loughran, assault occasioning actual bodily harm against Nicholas Speed and possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

His co-defendant - 20-year-old Thomas Waring, of Private Drive in Barnston - was convicted of possession of a prohibited weapon and assisting an offender. Both will be sentenced this afternoon, Friday.

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