Four sentenced to 94 years after killing Dwaine Junior Haughton in Wolverhampton shooting
A group of four men involved in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old man as he sat in a parked car in Wolverhampton have been jailed for a combined total of 94 years.
Dwain Smith, Kurrum Guild, Seamus Williams and Montell Gray opened fire with a shotgun on a dark blue Peugeot 207 on 20 July 2018.
Front seat passenger Dwaine Junior Haughton was struck in the head and back by the bullets fired into the car which was parked on Valley Road, Park Village.
His cousin, who was in the driver’s seat at the time, managed to escape uninjured.
Dwaine was driven to hospital with critical injuries and despite the best efforts of medics, he was pronounced dead in the early hours of Saturday morning.
A post mortem confirmed he died from a gunshot wound to the left side of his face and shoulder.
Witnesses began to tell of how they saw a car speeding away from the scene straight after the shooting.
That vehicle was identified as a gun metal grey Audi A7 which was later recovered after being set on fire outside Wades Scrapyard on Webb Street, Coseley.
As a result Dwain Smith was arrested on 27 July 2018 from Chainmakers Close, Bilston on suspicion of arson and handling stolen goods.
His arrest was the first step in a large scale police investigation which saw CCTV footage seized from 190 premises.
Forensics and painstaking phone analysis all helped detectives identify and track the movements of the suspects in the days leading up to the shooting.
A total of 10 warrants were executed during the operation. These included the home addresses of the suspects and addresses they were known to have visited before and after Dwaine was fatally shot.
The warrants secured vital evidence, including CCTV showing members of the group printing false number plates which were displayed on the Audi at the time of the offence.
Officers recovered two shotguns and ammunition from a garage on Hackford Road, Wolverhampton. DNA found on some of the ammunition was forensically linked to Montell Gray.
DNA on the trigger of one of the shotguns was linked to Dwain Smith, and detectives believe that these were the weapons used to kill Dwaine Haughton.
In January 2019, all four men were charged with murdering Mr Haughton, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life and handling stolen goods.
Seamus Williams, Dwain Smith and Kurrum Guild were further charged with arson in relation to the burned out car.
Despite a huge scale police investigation and countless police interviews with both suspects and witnesses, the motive for Dwaine’s murder remains unknown.
All four suspects denied the charges despite overwhelming evidence linking the men to each other, the Audi A7 and the shooting.
Following a six-week trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Seamus Williams, of Okemont Drive, Wolverhampton, and Montell Gray, of Springhill Road, Wolverhampton, were found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Dwain Smith of The Broadway, Dudley and Kurrum Guild of Oakthorpe Gardens, Tividale were found guilty of murder.
All four men were found guilty of all the other charges faced.
Smith and Guild later pleaded guilty to wounding and possession of a knife in relation to another stabbing that took place in Wolverhampton on 6 January 2019. Their co-defendant Aaron Evans from Chadwick Close, Wolverhampton also admitted his involvement in this attack.
Today (1 November) all five men were sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Dwain Smith, aged 26 and of Chainmakers Close, Bilston and Kurrum Guild, aged 22 and of Oakthorpe Gardens, Tividale were sentenced to life with a minimum term of 28 years after being found guilty of murder.
Both men were handed a further four years for the stabbing that took place in January. Their co-defendant for the stabbing, 27-year-old Aaron Evans was jailed for seven years.
Meanwhile Montell Gray, aged 22 and from Springhill Road, Wolverhampton and Seamus Williams, aged 24 and from Okemont Drive Wolverhampton were both jailed for 15 years after the jury found them guilty of manslaughter.
Det Insp Nicholas Barnes, from the homicide team, said: “These four men showed complete disregard for human life when they fired those shots into that car and it’s only through luck alone that others weren’t killed as a result of their actions.
“Unfortunately the motive for this killing remains a secret that the four killers will take to the cells. Despite a lengthy investigation, and a full trial process the whys and wherefores of what they did remain unknown.
“I’m glad that the jury was able to see that this was nothing short of a calculated and pre-meditated execution by four ruthless, evil individuals. My thoughts remain with Dwaine’s family - particularly his cousin who was in the car with Dwaine when he shot - and I hope they find some comfort in the lengthy sentences his killers have received."
DI Barnes also sought to reassure the community of West Midlands Police’s on-going commitment to tackling gun crime.
He added: “We have a gangs unit which is dedicated to dealing with gun and gang crime and have made some significant arrests and seizures of firearms and ammunition over the last few months.
“Recent court cases have shown that gun criminals can expect to spend many, many years behind bars - police and the courts simply won’t tolerate the use or possession of illegal firearms."
In a statement released today, Mr Haughton’s family said: “Dwaine’s death has devastated our family and friends. Dwaine was a loving and caring family man. We will never come to terms with the events of that evening [20 July 2018].
“We are happy that justice has been served and the men responsible, for his murder, will spend many years behind bars."