UPDATED WITH SENTENCE: Man found guilty of murdering an innocent woman outside a pub on Christmas Eve
UPDATE: Connor Chapman has today been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 48 years. Thomas Waring has been sentenced to nine years imprisonment.
Adam Clarke, Specialist Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire's Complex Casework Unit said on sentencing: "The murder of Elle Edwards has devastated a community and left her family and friends distraught.
"Her tragic death is keenly felt by so many. I, and the entire Crown Prosecution Service, extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends.
"Both Connor Chapman and Thomas Waring have now been sentenced and this brings this prosecution to an end. But for Elle's family and friends, the long process of coming to terms with the dreadful events of that night is probably only just beginning.
"We know nothing can make up for their loss, but we hope the conviction and sentencing of these two people will bring some comfort.
"This case is yet another example of the dreadful results of taking weapons onto our streets and into our communities. All too often, it is innocent bystanders who pay the price."
This press release was originally published on 6 July 2023.
A man has been found guilty of shooting dead an innocent woman with a submachine gun outside a pub on the Wirral on Christmas Eve.
Connor Chapman, 23, of Houghton Road, Woodchurch, Birkenhead, shot dead Elle Edwards outside the Lighthouse Pub in Wallasey just before midnight on 24 December 2022.
Elle Edwards had been out socialising with friends when she went outside shortly before the shooting.
Chapman was lying in wait, armed with a Skorpion sub-machine gun, intending to shoot Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld whom she was standing with.
Chapman, Salkeld and Duffy were involved in an ongoing series of disputes between two rival gangs from the Woodchurch and Ford estates on the Wirral.
Chapman has also been found guilty of attempting to kill Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld, wounding with intent two other men and assault occasioning actual bodily harm of another man.
His associate Thomas Waring, 20, of Private Road, Barnston, has been found guilty of assisting him after the murder, by keeping the gun after the attack and helping him burn out a car a week later.
Adam Clarke, Specialist Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s Complex Casework Unit, said:
“The murder of Elle Edwards has devastated a community and left her family and friends distraught by her loss. The Crown Prosecution Service’s case was that the dreadful shooting of Elle Edwards was not a random or inexplicable act.
“Elle Edwards was simply enjoying a night out during the Christmas period when her life was cruelly cut short by the horrific and senseless actions of Connor Chapman.
“Though impossible to comprehend, Chapman’s actions were not a random or inexplicable act. Instead, they were a deliberate attempt on the lives of Jake Duffy and Keiran Salkeld, in the culmination of the ongoing feud between rival gangs from the Woodchurch Estate – which Chapman was affiliated – and the Ford Estate.
“Chapman had planned the attack. He’d obtained the Skorpion gun, arrived in Wallasey just before 9pm and stayed in the area of the Lighthouse Pub for nearly 3 hours before he fired the fatal shots.
“After the shooting, Chapman met up with Thomas Waring and together worked to cover up his crime.
“However, their attempts to evade facing up to the awful crime Chapman committed were prevented by the meticulous investigation by Merseyside Police. This vital evidence meant the Crown Prosecution Service were able to present a strong case to the jury and see Chapman and Waring convicted.”
In October and November 2022, Chapman had been made the subject of gang injunctions which prevented him from associating with Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld.
Chapman arrived at the Lighthouse pub in a stolen black Mercedes car a few hours before the shooting and was caught on CCTV watching the pub and parking in different locations.
Just before midnight, Chapman got out of the car, walked up to the pub and opened fire at Salkeld and Duffy and the group they were standing with.
Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld were injured but survived. Elle Edwards, a wholly innocent bystander, was hit by two bullets. She was taken to Arrowe Park Hospital but was pronounced dead.
After the shooting, Chapman drove to the home of Thomas Waring.
On New Year’s Eve, seven days after the fatal shooting, Waring and Chapman went to Frodsham where they burnt out the Mercedes car.
On New Year’s Day, the police went to Connor Chapman’s parents and called him on one of his mobile phones, asking him to make contact. He didn’t and never used that phone again.
Chapman then fled to a holiday home in Garthmyl in Montgomery, Mid Wales. He was arrested at the Tesco store in Newtown in Wales on 10 January 2023.
Waring was later arrested on 26 January 2023.
Both denied their involvement. Chapman said he had driven in the Mercedes on prior occasions but said he was at his girlfriend’s home at the time of the shooting. Waring denied he helped to dispose of the Mercedes or having possession of the gun.
Today (6 July 2023) after a four-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court, a jury found both men guilty of all counts against them. They will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court tomorrow (July 7).
Adam Clarke added: “The loss of Elle Edwards is keenly felt by those who knew and loved her, and by the entire community. I, and the entire Crown Prosecution Service, extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Elle Edwards. We know nothing can make up for this loss, but we hope the convictions will bring some comfort.”
Notes to editors
- Adam Clarke is a Specialist Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s Complex Casework Unit