THE cold-blooded killer of father-of-two Christopher Honnor has been jailed for life.
Christopher Strettle, 44, who had been the best man at the victim’s wedding, blasted Mr Honnor with a Browning semi-automatic pistol on the morning of October 13 last year.
Strettle’s wife, Lesley, 41, the mother of his three children, was also jailed last Friday (May 4) after she admitted disposing of the murder weapon and, like her husband, giving false and misleading accounts to the police.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how Mrs Strettle, a hairdresser who runs the Signature salon on Warrington Road, Whiston, called her husband after receiving complaints about Mr Honnor playing loud music in the flat upstairs.
Prosecutor Stephen Riordan QC said Mr Strettle, who has been classed as an “incomplete paraplegic” meaning he has difficulties moving because of spinal injuries since a motorbike accident in 2006, came quickly to the scene with a gun concealed in his trouser band.
He went into the hallway and shouted at his old school friend to “pack up and leave”, but when Mr Honnor appeared at the top of the stairs Mr Strettle shot him in the chest.
As Mr Strettle drove off, Mr Honnor emerged from the flat fatally wounded with his arms outstretched, before collapsing in the street and being tended to by members of the public.
Mrs Strettle followed her husband in another car before disposing of the gun.
When the couple were arrested at their home in Park Avenue, Eccleston Park, Mrs Strettle falsely claimed that Mr Honnor had produced the gun and pointed it at her husband before a struggle ensued and the gun went off.
Mrs Strettle repeated the account in police interview before finally admitting that she had lied - under questioning on October 14.
She told police that, following the shooting, she wrapped the gun in a scarf before throwing it in the Taylor Park boating lake.
Mrs Strettle claimed not to have known that the gun had previously been kept in a drawer in her house - despite police also finding 23 rounds of ammunition.
Despite repeated police searches of the Taylor Park lake, no weapon has ever been recovered.
Brian Cummings QC, whose client Christopher Strettle was convicted of murder after trial, argued that jail would be tougher for his client because of his disabilities. He also said there was a lack of premeditation.
Mr Cummings said: “In any view, what happened here was relatively short-lived - from the telephone call to the point at which the gunshot was discharged.”
Eric Lamb QC, defending Lesley Strettle, said his client was of “previous good character” and that she had simply acted out of “misguided loyalty”. He said: “As a result of her actions her family has been torn apart.”
Mr Justice McCombe sentenced Christopher Strettle to a minimum custodial term of 26 years. He jailed Lesley Strettle for five years.