Suspected target of Elle Edwards shooting stole Amazon van days before murder

Jake Duffy, 24, of Hornby Road, Walton. Formerly of Arley Close, Oxton, Birkenhead
-Credit: (Image: Merseyside police)

A gang member who was one of the targets of the Christmas Eve drive-by shooting which killed innocent Elle Edwards was meticulously tracked by detectives after he stole an Amazon van.

Jake Duffy, of Hornby Road, Walton, is believed to have been the intended victim of drug dealer Connor Chapman, who open fired on the Lighthouse Inn in Wallasey Village just after 11.50pm on December 24 2022. Elle Edwards, 26, was killed in the shooting, and five others - including Duffy and his friend, Kieran Salkeld - were injured.

It was the final, tragic outcome of a deadly chain of events, triggered by Duffy and Salkeld's brutal beating of a man called Sam Searson just one day earlier.

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Duffy, 24, and friend William Duggan, also 24, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday, July 5, after pleading guilty to the theft of an Amazon delivery van on Frankby Road, West Kirby, on December 16 2022 - just one week before the shooting.

Duffy also pleaded guilty to handling a stolen motor vehicle - a £14,500 Ford Kuga, which had been stolen from Broomfield Gardens, Liverpool, on December 6. The car was found torched and stripped of its number plates on Boundary Road, Birkenhead, on December 19 2022. Using GPS data retrieved from the burned-out car, detectives were able to track its movements between December 6, when it was stolen, and the date it was found.

At around 4.30pm on December 6, the Kuga was caught on CCTV entering the Q Park car park at Queen Square, Liverpool city centre, with false number plates.

At 1.30pm on December 16, shortly before the Amazon van was stolen from Frankby Road, the Kuga visited the café at Larton’s Farm off Frankby Stiles, Wirral. CCTV footage of the car park showed three men getting out of the vehicle, two of whom were identified as Duffy and Duggan. The Kuga then travelled to Frankby Road, where the Amazon van was stolen, before moving onto Saughall Massie and then turning left into Pennystone Close, where a passer-by noticed three men in "scarves or masks" frantically throwing parcels out of the van.

The GPS data then showed the Kuga leaving Pennystone Close and turning left onto Saughall Massie Road, onto Upton By-Pass. It continued onto Moreton Spur, then northbound on the M53, then southbound onto to A554 at Bidston Island. It travelled onto Hoylake Road, onto Bidston Village Road and then left onto Fender Way.

It turned into Broadfield Avenue, coming to a stop outside Duggan’s home address. The Kuga remained stationary outside his house for three minutes before travelling to Thirlmere Avenue, a short walk from Duffy's former address on Arley Close.

But the most damning piece of evidence was found on December 23 after Duffy and Salkeld were caught on a doorbell camera assaulting Sam Searson on Highfield Road, Rock Ferry. Duffy dropped his iPhone during attack, and when police examined it they found video footage of a man believed to be Duffy boasting: "Man's just took the whole Amazon van, you know."

Prosecutor Daniel Bramhall said: "On the device police discovered a short video clip of a male in a vehicle, driving, whilst taking a video of himself on the mobile phone. The male films a large van, travelling directly behind appearing to be in convoy. Audio can be heard on the video and a male with a Liverpool accent can be heard saying 'man's just took the whole Amazon van, you know'. The clip was first created on December 16 at 1.41pm, shortly after the Amazon van had been stolen, before the contents had been transferred into the back of the stolen Ford Kuga.

"The male in the video clip appears to be wearing a fur hooded coat similar in appearance to the coat Jake Duffy is seen to be wearing on the CCTV footage from the café at Larton Farm."

Jake Duffy, 24, of Hornby Road, Walton, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He was ordered to complete 25 rehabilitation days and pay £250 costs.

William Duggan, 24, of Broadfield Avenue, Beechwood, was sentenced to eight months in prisonb, suspended for 18 months, and 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to complete 25 rehabilitation days and pay £250 costs, and to take part in a thinking skills programme.

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