A 23-year-old man named Connor Chapman has been sentenced to life in prison after firing a submachine gun into a crowded pub on Christmas Eve, resulting in the death of a woman. Chapman will not be eligible for release until he reaches his 70s. The incident took place at the Lighthouse Inn in Wallasey Village on December 24, 2022. Elle Edwards, a 26-year-old beautician, was tragically killed in the shooting.
During the trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Mr. Justice Goose described Ms. Edwards as a “wholly innocent bystander” who lost her life when Chapman opened fire into the pub using a Skorpion sub-machine gun. The court was informed that the shooting was the climax of a bitter feud between two rival organized crime groups in The Wirral. One gang operated from the Woodchurch estate, while the other operated from the Beechwood estate on the opposite side of the M57 motorway.
Chapman, a resident of the Woodchurch estate, intended to kill his rivals Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld, both of whom were injured in the shooting. He then fled the scene in a stolen Mercedes. On Friday, Chapman received a life sentence with a minimum term of 48 years. Another gang member, 20-year-old Thomas Waring, was also convicted and received a nine-year prison sentence for possession of a prohibited weapon and assisting an offender.
While considering imposing a whole life order, which would have meant Chapman would never be released from prison, the judge ultimately decided against it. In sentencing Chapman, Mr. Justice Goose stated, “What you did Connor Chapman was as wicked as it was shocking. You murdered Elle, bringing an end to her life, and caused serious injury and wounded others…You didn’t care who else was killed… you are a highly dangerous man.”
Apart from the murder charge, Chapman was also found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possession of a Skorpion sub-machine gun with intent to endanger life, and possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Outside the court, members of Ms. Edwards’s family expressed their anger and shouted insults as Chapman was led away. Victim impact statements from the victim’s parents, Tim and Gaynor Edwards, were read in court. Mr. Edwards described his daughter as a caring and beautiful person who always prioritized others, while Ms. Edwards’s mother, Gaynor, struggled to put into words how much she missed her daughter.
Mr. and Mrs. Edwards also spoke to the media after the verdict was announced. Mr. Edwards emphasized the emotional toll the trial had taken on their family and expressed gratitude towards the police for their efforts in bringing the case to a close. He hoped that Chapman and Waring would never experience another Christmas again.
Detective Superintendent Paul Grounds, who led the investigation, described Chapman as a dangerous and ruthless individual. He revealed that Chapman had spent several hours at the Lighthouse pub before choosing a strategic vantage point from which to launch his attack. According to Mr. Grounds, Chapman displayed complete disregard for the safety of bystanders and only had his intended targets, Kieran Salkeld and Jake Duffy, in mind.
The court was shown CCTV footage of Salkeld and Duffy assaulting Sam Searson, a member of the Woodchurch gang, the day before the murder. It was revealed that Chapman had been served with an interim injunction aimed at preventing gang-related violence, which prohibited him from associating with Salkeld, Duffy, and Searson.
The tragic shooting at the Lighthouse Inn was the culmination of a longstanding feud between rival gangs and has brought devastation to the Edwards family and the community as a whole. The sentencing of Chapman and Waring is a significant step towards justice, although it can never undo the pain and loss experienced by Elle Edwards’s loved ones.