'Wholly innocent' beautician Elle Edwards gunned down with sub-machine gun in 'feud between two rival gangs'

13 June 2023, 14:28

Connor Chapman denies murdering Elle Edwards
Connor Chapman denies murdering Elle Edwards. Picture: Handout/Merseyside Police

By Kit Heren

A "wholly innocent" beautician was shot dead on Christmas Eve when she was caught in the middle of a feud between two rival gangs.

Elle Edwards, 26, was shot twice in the head outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey Village on the Wirral in Merseyside.

Connor Chapman, 23, has denied murdering Ms Edwards and attempting to murder four men, as well as seven other charges.

Opening the trial at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday, prosecutor Nigel Power KC said Ms Edwards was on an "enjoyable night out" with friends on December 24, when she went out for a cigarette and stood with a group of people at 11.47pm.

Chilling footage played to the jury shows a man walking around the corner from the pub car park. He begins shooting and hits five people, including Ms Edwards.

The attacker was using a Skorpion sub-machine gun, a Czech firearm used by armies and security services.

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Elle Edwards who was shot dead on Christmas Eve
Elle Edwards who was shot dead on Christmas Eve. Picture: social media

Mr Power said that the two men that the attacker - whom the prosecution claim is Chapman - meant to kill Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld. Both men were among the four others wounded in the shooting.

Mr Power said: "What we say it shows is that what otherwise might have been viewed as a random or inexplicable shooting of a wholly innocent woman, Elle Edwards, was in fact the culmination of an ongoing feud between people from, on the one hand, the Woodchurch estate, and on the other hand, from the Ford Estate, which included Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld, who were the intended victims of the shooting."

He added: "Although they were injured, Elle Edwards, a wholly innocent bystander, was killed by two bullets which entered the back of the left side of her head."

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Connor Chapman who has denied her murder
Connor Chapman who has denied her murder. Picture: social media

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The jury was told after the shooting Chapman drove a stolen Mercedes to the home of his friend and co-defendant Thomas Waring, 20, in Barnston, Wirral.

In CCTV footage shown to the court a man, alleged to be Chapman, was seen walking towards Waring's house. Mr Power said the man appeared to ruffle his long hair as he walked.

He said: "What we suggest is, as the man, who is in the stolen car that had been in the car park, from which the shooting had taken place, as he ruffles his hair he dislodges the gun that had just carried out the murder, which drops to the floor and then he picks it up."

Mr Power told the jury the shooting followed a "history of trouble" between rival groups from the Woodchurch and Ford estates, on either side of the M53 in Wirral.

He outlined a series of events, including injunctions preventing Chapman associating with named individuals, including Mr Duffy and Mr Salkeld, as well as a burglary in November and two shootings in December.

The court also heard that the day before the shooting, on December 23, Mr Duffy and Mr Salkeld, from the Ford estate, assaulted Sam Searson, from the Woodchurch estate.

About a dozen members of Ms Edwards' family were in court for the opening of the trial.

Chapman, wearing a white shirt and grey tie with his hair tied back, denies the murder of Ms Edwards, two counts of attempted murder and three counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He also denies possession of a Skorpion sub-machine gun with intent to endanger life and possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Waring, of Private Drive, Barnston, Wirral, denies possessing a prohibited weapon and assisting an offender by helping Chapman to dispose of the car.