A “wholly innocent” woman was shot with a sub-machine gun outside a pub on Christmas Eve in the culmination of an “ongoing feud” between rival groups from two estates, a court has heard.

Connor Chapman, 23, is accused of the murder of Elle Edwards, 26, who was killed in the shooting outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey Village, Wirral, Merseyside, on December 24 last year.

The trial was told he had planned to travel to Spain on January 2, but this was cancelled. A trip was then booked for a "romantic stay" at Penllwyn Lodges in Garthmyl for four nights from January 9, and Chapman headed to Powys in a rented car.

But after being spotted at Welshpool McDonald's, he was arrested at Tesco in Newtown on January 10.

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


Footage played to the court showed a man walk round the corner from the car park of the pub and open fire, injuring five people and killing Ms Edwards.

He was using a Skorpion sub-machine gun, a Czech firearm designed for the security services and the army, the court heard.

Mr Power said the intended targets of the shooting were Jake Duffy and Kieran Salkeld.

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.”

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.

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

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.”

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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.

Jurors, along with Elle Edwards’ father and other relatives, were again replayed graphic CCTV from the crime scene.

Mr Power said it showed Chapman lurking in the area for three hours before seeing his target outside the pub, scurrying across the pub car park and opening fire with his weapon.

Ms Edwards could be seen to collapse on top of one of the intended victims, who was also shot, Kieran Salkeld.

Twelve bullets were fired, the muzzle of the Skorpion machine gun flashing white, before the gunman fled the scene in the stolen car.

A post-mortem examination showed Ms Edwards suffered non-survivable injuries, having been hit twice in the left side of the back of her head, with a gunshot wound passing through her skull and brain and exiting just above the right eye.

The second bullet passed through the skull bone and into the brain.

Mr Power said DNA evidence linking Chapman to a bullet casing found at the scene was “hugely significant”, providing a strong support linking him to the discharged bullet.

The case continues