Two men jailed for life for ‘assassination’ of drugs supplier

Ben Mitchell, PA
·2-min read

Two men have been jailed for life for the “assassination” of a drugs supplier who was shot dead in a rural lay-by.

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 court case
Aston Hannis has been jailed for life (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years.

Co-defendant, Charlie Statham, 30, of Winchester, was also convicted of murder and jailed for life to serve a minimum of 28 years.

Aston Hannis court case
Charlie Statham (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Paul White, 27, of Winchester, was jailed for 15 years for manslaughter, while Corin Barlow, 41, from Horley, Surrey, was sentenced to 17 years also for manslaughter.

Aston Hannis court case
Paul White (Hampshire Constabulary/PA)

Andrew Langdon QC, prosecuting, told the trial that the fatal shot which 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.

Aston Hannis court case
Corin Barlow (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’ 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.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Storey said: “Today marks the end of a long and complex investigation following the assassination of Gurinderjit Rai.

“We hope that today’s sentences give the friends and family of Gurinderjit Rai some form of closure.

“I would like to thank all the officers from across the force who worked to bring these four men to justice.”