Two men convicted of murdering drugs supplier shot dead in rural layby

·2-min read

A drug dealer has been convicted of the murder of his supplier by shooting him dead in a rural layby after “tensions rose” following a robbery of his safe house.

The body of Gurinderjit Rai was found in a Ford Fiesta in the countryside lane in Corhampton, Hampshire, by two horse riders on July 13 2019.

Dealer Aston Hannis, 30, of Eastleigh, was found guilty at Winchester Crown Court of the murder of the 41-year-old, who was originally from Eastleigh but was more recently based in Cheshire.

Aston Hannis (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)
Aston Hannis (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Co-defendant Charlie Statham, 30, of Winchester, was also convicted of murder.

The jury found two other men, Paul White, 27, of Winchester, and Corin Barlow, 41, from Horley, Surrey, guilty of manslaughter.

All four will be sentenced on April 23.

A fifth man, Philip Hodan, 43, of Owslebury, was found not guilty of participating in the criminal activities of an organised crime group.

Charlie Statham (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)
Charlie Statham (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Andrew Langdon QC, prosecuting, told the trial the fatal shot that killed Mr Rai, known as G, was fired from a Mercedes A-class saloon car containing Hannis and Statham.

The pair are believed to have then dumped the car in a field where it was set alight and they were picked up by White.

The murder weapon, a sawn-off Beretta 12-bore shotgun, was supplied by Barlow, the prosecutor said.

Paul White (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)
Paul White (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Mr Langdon explained that Hannis was a drug dealer who supplied cocaine and cannabis to the Winchester area, with evidence suggesting he sold drugs worth £240,000 in a six-week period.

He said that Mr Rai had been Hannis’s supplier but “tensions” had emerged after a safe house where Hannis kept his drugs was raided.

He added that Hannis also had a large outstanding debt to Mr Rai.

Speaking after the trial, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Storey, of Hampshire police, said: “Gurinderjit Rai’s death was a carefully planned assassination in which the jury found Hannis and Statham had principal roles.

Corin Barlow (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)
Corin Barlow (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

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

“Our thoughts remain with Gurinderjit’s friends and family.”

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