Drugs supplier trial: Two men jailed over Gurinderjit Rai murder

Image source, Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption,
Gurinderjit Rai was known as "G" in the criminal world, Winchester Crown Court was told

Two men have been jailed over the "well-planned execution" of a drugs supplier in a dispute over a large debt and the theft of cocaine and cannabis.

Gurinderjit Rai, 41, was shot dead in a parked car in a rural lay-by at Corhampton, Hampshire, in July 2019.

Aston Hannis and Charlie Statham, both 30, were sentenced to life with minimum terms of 35 and 28 years respectively after being convicted of murder.

A judge said she was "quite sure" it was Hannis who pulled the trigger.

"This was a quick, brutal and well-planned execution," Mrs Justice Cutts said.

Image source, HampshirePolice
Image caption,
Aston Hannis and Charlie Statham were handed life sentences for murder

The judge also sentenced Corin Barlow, 41, from Horley in Surrey, and Paul White, 27, of Dyson Drive, Winchester, to 17 years and 15 years respectively after they were cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

During the trial, the court heard Hannis, of Leah Gardens, Eastleigh, was a dealer who supplied cocaine and cannabis to the Winchester area.

Mr Rai, known as G, had been his supplier but "tensions" had risen after a safe house where Hannis kept his drugs was burgled.

The court heard Hannis was said to have owed his victim "at least £148,000".

Shotgun 'execution'

The prosecution said when Mr Rai arrived at a rendezvous point in Corhampton on the night of 12 July, he was expecting Hannis to repay him some of the money he owed.

Prosecutors said Hannis and Statham, from Winchester, "carried out the execution" with a sawn-off shotgun, which had been supplied to him by Barlow.

The court heard White, from Winchester, drove to meet Hannis and Statham after they drove a Mercedes saloon car they used for the killing to a rural location and set it on fire.

Image caption,
Gurinderjit Rai's body was found in a parked car near Corhampton Golf Club

Mr Rai, originally from Eastleigh but living in Cheshire, was found dead by horse riders in Shepherds Farm Lane the following morning.

Mrs Justice Curtis said Hannis had turned to his "extremely loyal friends" Statham and White to carry out the killing, who she said were not part of his organised crime group.

Image source, HampshirePolice
Image caption,
Corin Barlow and Paul White were convicted of manslaughter

Sentencing Hannis, she said: "You will leave prison an old man. The majority of your life will be gone."

Det Ch Insp Dave Storey, from Hampshire Constabulary, previously described Mr Rai's death as a "carefully planned assassination".

He said: "Ultimately this is another example of the harm, misery and devastation that drug supply and its associated violence can inflict upon communities.

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