Three jailed over £100K murder plot with fake Tesco delivery driver

Craig Miller (top left), Connor Palmer (bottom left) and Elijah Stokes (right) hired a hitman to shoot a man in a £100,000 murder plot. (SWNS)
Craig Miller (top left), Connor Palmer (bottom left) and Elijah Stokes (right) hired a hitman to shoot a man in a £100,000 murder plot. (SWNS)

Three men have been jailed after they used a fake Tesco delivery driver in a £100,000 murder plot against a stranger.

Craig Miller, 37, Elijah Stokes, 38, and Connor Palmer, 40, were acting under the orders of a Dubai-based “Mr Big” drug dealer, who offered the trio a six-figure sum to have the man killed.

The victim was shot five times by an unidentified gunman who knocked on his door disguised as a Tesco worker and asked: "Are you expecting a delivery?"

He was left fighting for his life with gunshot wounds to his face, arm and hand but survived the "movie-like" assassination attempt in his own home.

Jurors were told the group planned the hit after their target had owed money to a high-level UK drug dealer currently living in Dubai.

The victim’s partner opened the door to their home in the Sheldon area of Birmingham to find a man in a Tesco jacket, high-vis vest and black ski mask.

He asked if she was "expecting a delivery" and said: “He’s here, isn’t he” before walking into the house and opening fire at the man.

A general view of Birmingham Crown Court after the sentencing of Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek, who have both been jailed for at least 30 years for murdering a four-year-old schoolboy Daniel Pelka.
Craig Miller, Elijah Stokes and Connor Palmer were convicted of conspiracy to murder at Birmingham Crown Court. (PA)

A young child was in the house at the time but was not injured by the hail of bullets during the botched attack in May 2020.

Mr Justice Pepperall said Miller, Stokes and Palmer went about their business “with ruthless efficiency, showing no compassion whatsoever to your victim”.

He said the victim “only survived due to the ineptitude of the gunman and extraordinary good luck”.

The judge said Stokes had been a "trusted lieutenant" and described all three as "very dangerous men".

Birmingham Crown Court was told the group was caught after police cracked their Encrochat – an encrypted global communication service used exclusively by criminals.

Detectives found in the weeks after the bungled murder attempt, the dealer in Dubai told Miller he wanted another man to be killed.

He sent a photo with the caption "That’s him", to which Miller replied: "Clips going in his head.”

12 May 2022, Saxony, Dresden: ILLUSTRATION - A woman holds a smartphone with the logo of the crypto-messenger service Encrochat (posed scene). Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa (Photo by Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The group was caught after police cracked their Encrochat. (Getty/file picture)

Stokes arranged for the car and gun to be delivered to the hitman, who has never been identified.

Simon Ash KC, prosecuting, said that the defendants were "motivated highly by financial gain" and that it had been a carefully planned operation.

The injuries to the victim, who had spent a week receiving intensive care, had been life-threatening and it has not been possible to remove the bullets from his body.

Miller, of Epsom, Surrey, Stokes, of Earlsdon, Coventry and Palmer, of Norbury, South London, were convicted of conspiracy to murder.

Palmer and Miller were both jailed for life, with Palmer ordered to serve a minimum of 23 years and Miller 30 years. Stokes was jailed for 27 years.

Detective inspector Gemma Currie, of West Midlands Police, said: “The messages we uncovered as part of this investigation make for truly chilling reading and are like something from a movie.

“It was a miracle that the victim of the shooting in Sheldon survived.“