AN ASPIRING barber who hid a shotgun used in the assassination-style murder of a drugs supplier has been jailed after his evidence helped convict four others for the killing.

Morgan Tarrant gave evidence against an organised criminal gang who killed father-of-two Gurinderjit Rai, 41, in Shepherds Farm Lane, Corhampton, on July 12, 2019.

Today (Wednesday) Winchester Crown Court was told “how valuable” Tarrant’s evidence was in the case against the four men who were involved in the murder of Mr Rai.

Mr Rai was killed by Aston Hannis and Charlie Statham after tensions rose between drug dealer Hannis and the victim over a large debt owed by Hannis. The pair were convicted following an eight-week trial.

Two others Paul White and Corin Barlow were found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Rai. Barlow provided the sawn-off Beretta 12-bore shotgun used to kill Mr Rai.

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Giving evidence for the prosecution during the trial, Tarrant told the court that in the weeks following the murder Barlow offered him £4,500 to hide the gun. Barlow and Tarrant had worked together on a number of building sites, and Barlow supplied him with drugs.

Charles Thomas, prosecuting, said that following the murder “He (Tarrant) was asked to look after something by Mr Barlow initially, although it wasn’t explicit what that was.”

It later become apparent that it was “the gun that was used in the murder of Mr Rai".

The 21-year-old was told that someone would come and collect the gun, but this did not happen and he was told to get rid of the weapon. Instead, he decided to bury it in a wooded area in Whitchurch, near Basingstoke, in early September 2019 – thinking that he would have to show it to someone later. He later showed police where the gun was hidden, along with a cartridge that he had concealed in the wall of a bridge.

Mr Thomas said: “Had he simply kept his mouth shut there wouldn’t have been proceedings against him.”

The court was told that there had been comments made about “how valuable” Tarrant’s evidence was during the trial.

In mitigation, Barry McElduff said that a note from an officer in the case said a “circumstantial case was not sufficient enough”. Referring to Tarrant’s evidence, Mr McElduff continued: “One of course could not say ‘well that is what made the difference to the jury’ but it made the difference in getting here.

“He has given evidence against dangerous people, he has undoubtedly put himself at considerable risk as a result.”

Mr McElduff asked judge Mrs Justice Cutts to suspend any sentence given, saying: “Every minute of everyday Mr Tarrant is a serving prisoner he will be thinking is this the day revenge is meted out on me, is this the day I am attacked, is the day I am scolded, stabbed, killed.”

Mr McElduff also said that Tarrant became involved out of “misguided loyalty” to Barlow who “took advantage of Mr Tarrant’s vulnerability”.

The court heard that Tarrant has now turned his life around and has got himself clean from drugs.

Tarrant was jailed for 16 months after he previously plead guilty to assisting an offender and possessing a shortened firearm without a certificate.

In sentencing, Mrs Justice Cutts said: “It was your statement that persuaded the prosecution that they had sufficient evidence to prosecute others during this case,” but she added: “You agreed to hide a firearm that was used in a murder”.

An order remains in place preventing the publication of Tarrant’s address.