Sawn-off shotgun found in Clifton during Jordon Banton murder probe - but it had nothing to do with the killing

The case was heard at Warwick Crown Court, which sits at the Justice Centre in Leamington
The case was heard at Warwick Crown Court, which sits at the Justice Centre in Leamington

When police officers investigating the murder of Rugby father-of-three Jordon Banton searched an address in the town they found a sawn-off shotgun with a man’s DNA on it.

In fact it was discovered that neither the weapon nor the man whose DNA was found had anything to do with Mr Banton’s killing, a judge has heard.

It was not in the sawn-off state when he had possession of it, or he would not have accepted it

Stephen Parker, defending

Tyrone Gray had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing a prohibited weapon, the sawn-off shotgun, in July last year.

But on the day of his trial he admitted an alternative offence of possessing a firearm while prohibited from doing so because of a criminal conviction.

Gray, 27, of Hazel Grove, Bicester, Oxfordshire, was jailed for 20 months, consecutive to a 27-month sentence he is already serving for a burglary.

Prosecutor Nigel Stelling said that in July last year police officers involved in a murder investigation carried out searches at a number of addresses in Rugby.

The investigation was into the killing of Jordon Banton, who had been blasted three times with a shotgun as he sat in his car – for which two men have since been jailed for life.

At a house in Main Street, Clifton-on-Dunsmore, they discovered a sawn-off shotgun on which forensic tests were carried out and Gray’s DNA was found.

And as a result of that he was arrested and interviewed on suspicion of murder.

But further investigations and an analysis of the gun revealed that it was not the murder weapon and that Gray had nothing to do with the shooting of Mr Banton.

But his DNA showed he had been in possession of the shotgun, despite being prohibited from possessing a firearm at the time because it was within five years of him having served a custodial sentence.

Stephen Parker, defending, said that previously an associate of Gray, who had a conviction last year for possessing a shotgun cartridge while prohibited, had asked him to look after the shotgun for a week, and he agreed to do so.

But Mr Parker pointed out: “It was not in the sawn-off state when he had possession of it, or he would not have accepted it.”

He added that Gray, who is serving a 27-month sentence for a ram-raid at a travel agent, from which he is not due to be released until next year, ‘says he has had enough of prison.’

Jailing Gray, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You are here because of what the police found when searching a house following a much more serious crime. There is no suggestion you had anything to do with that.

“But what they fond was a case with a gun in it. It was found to have your DNA on it, and you have pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm when prohibited from doing so.

“The prosecution cannot prove that when you were in possession of this gun it was a sawn-off shotgun and therefore illegal.

“But you know you are prohibited from possessing a weapon like that because of your previous convictions which include the supply of class A drugs.

“Your account is that you looked after this for a week for a friend, and there is no evidence that was not true.

“But you have a previous conviction for possessing ammunition in similar circumstances. That makes this a serious matter.”