Connor Chapman has been sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to 48 years for the murder of Elle Edwards in Wallasey last Christmas Eve. Chapman will be 71 years old before he will be able to apply for parole.
Mr Justice Goose said in his sentencing remarks: “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.”
Chapman’s accomplice, Thomas Waring, was sentenced to nine years.
Yesterday, following a 16-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Chapman, 23, of Houghton Road, Woodchurch, was found guilty of Elle’s murder and also of attempted murder, wounding with intent to cause GBH and possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
He previously pleaded guilty to one count of handling stolen goods in relation to the Mercedes car used on the night of the shooting.
Thomas Waring, 20, of Private Drive in Barnston, was found guilty of possession of a prohibited weapon and assisting an offender in relation to the murder.
Elle, 26, was fatally wounded after being shot while standing outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey just before midnight on Christmas Eve last year.
After firing the gun Chapman left the scene in a stolen Mercedes which was later found burnt out. He was arrested on 10 January this year in a supermarket in Wales.
Elle’s father has said his mission is now to stop gun violence on Merseyside. He said, “My focus is to stop another Elle Edwards, another Ashley Dale, another Olivia Pratt-Korbel and if I can be part of something that helps stop these kids doing these horrendous crimes, then I’ll do all I can.
“The most powerful thing we have is the sense of community, it’s still there in these places.
“I think a lot of people maybe are afraid because they’re intimidated by these gangs who are hanging around, but if we stick together, we’re going to win every time.”
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Paul Grounds said, “Connor Chapman has today been jailed for life for the senseless and tragic murder of Elle Edwards in Wirral on Christmas Eve last year.
“Elle was a young woman with her whole life ahead of her who was simply enjoying a night out in a pub with her family and friends.
“The cowardly actions of Chapman on that night, firing at his intended targets while they were stood outside in a crowd, shows the arrogance and contempt he had for everyone else.
“As a result of his reckless actions Elle had her life tragically cut short.
“Her family, friends and everyone who knew her have been left devastated by their loss.
“Today Chapman is behind bars where he rightly belongs and where he will now spend a considerable period of his adult life. His co-accused Thomas Waring has also been brought to justice.
“No sentence, however long, can change what Chapman did but I hope knowing he has been brought to justice and is off our streets brings them some small amount of comfort.
“I also hope that it serves as a deterrent to anyone considering picking up or using a gun.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Elle’s family who throughout this whole investigation and the trial have remained dignified and composed despite being forced to relive the horrific events of Christmas Eve.
“I hope that now they can start to properly grieve their loss.
“I would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and in particular Nigel Power KC and Katy Appleton for the successful prosecution of the case.
“I would also like to thank all the officers and staff from across all strands of Merseyside Police who were involved in the case.
“From day one their commitment, dedication and hard work has been key to the investigation and allowed us to successfully prosecute Chapman and Waring and get justice for Elle’s family.”
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.
“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.”
A statement from Elle’s father, Tim Edwards, was read to the court, “My daughter was doing what everyone should be able to do. Her life was cut short. She was lost forever. She would always put others before herself.
Elle’s mother, Gaynor Edwards, was unable to attend court. A statement from her said, “Why have you done this? What drove you to do this to my daughter?
“I cannot accept she has gone. She looked after me. My health has deteriorated. I cannot put into words how much I love her.
“As an adult, she was not afraid to take on a challenge. Just as her life was cut short she was reaching her peak and was at the happiest I ever saw her. The bond she has with her siblings was and is unbreakable.”
Tim Edwards’ statement continued, “Elle also loved the company of her grandparents in New Brighton.
“It was her second home. I hope nobody else has to go through what we are going through now and for the rest of our lives.
“We have been given a life sentence having committed no crime. Whenever we celebrate any event, Elle will always be missing.
“I last spoke to Elle on Christmas Eve. I wanted to know what the plans were for Christmas Day.
“Elle said she was in The Lighthouse, she’d been there last year and wanted to go again. I told Elle to have a good night, we said we loved each other.
“They were the last words.”
Elle’s brother, Conner Edwards told the court, “The days after were horrific, visiting her in the mortuary.”
“She didn’t deserve this. Organising the funeral was the worst thing I have ever had to do.
“I go to bed with a constant hit of grief. Our lives have been destroyed.
”Christmas was our time. We never missed a Christmas together. The fact it happened at this time of year is horrendous.
“I miss going into her room and having a laugh.
“Chapman has not only taken my sister away from us but watching the CCTV of her shooting has been brutal. But nothing will take this family down. We have to carry on the best we can.
“My beautiful sister Elle Marlene Edwards I love you and miss you.”
Wallasey MP, Angela Eagle, said, “This afternoon, justice has been served.
“My thoughts and deepest sympathies continue to be with Elle’s family and loved ones today. I hope today’s judgement will bring them some comfort, but it is nothing compared to the hell they have been going through since December.
“We cannot allow gangland violence and cowardly cold-blooded murder to prevail on the Wirral.
“It is vital our community is protected from violence, and that those who perpetrate such crimes face the consequences of their life-destroying behaviour.”
Cllr Paul Stuart, Wirral Council Leader said, “First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family and friends of Elle Edwards who have suffered such a devastating loss and having to endure a lengthy court trial.
“Nothing will ever replace the loss of Elle, especially in such horrific circumstances. However, I hope Elle’s family will take some comfort knowing justice has been served to those responsible.
“This was an appalling crime, and its impact was felt by the whole community in Wallasey Village and throughout Wirral.
“I would like to thank our communities for rallying together through this tough time and assure them that Wirral Council is committed to supporting the work of the police and other partners in tackling serious and organised crime and violence and doing everything we can to ensure such a tragedy is not repeated.”