Pair jailed for life for murder of pub landlord

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Two men were jailed for life today for killing a pub landlord shot dead after a "trivial" row over a laser pen shone at a car, police said.

Swinder Singh Batth, 47, was hit by a "poorly aimed" bullet fired by a hooded gunman at someone else outside his bar in Bilston, West Midlands, on July 28 last year.

Jasbir Singh Takhar and Sukwinder Singh Sanghera were today sentenced to life with a minimum of 29 and 28 years respectively at Birmingham Crown Court, West Midlands Police said.

Takhar, 23, of Birmingham New Road, Coseley, West Midlands, and Sanghera, 24, of Albion Road, West Bromwich, were both convicted of murder unanimously by a jury yesterday after an eight-week trial.

Mr Batth was shot dead just after midnight on July 28 2009 outside Gavin's Bar in Bilston.

He was the licensee of the bar, married and a father of four.

During the trial, prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC said Mr Batth died minutes after being shot in the chest when a Seat Alhambra and a Renault Clio pulled up outside the bar.

The QC said it was very unlikely Mr Batth was the intended target of the bullet, which had been fired with a "considered and deliberate desire for revenge" following an earlier dispute near the bar over a laser pen shone at a car.

Yesterday jurors also found four other men and a woman guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder in connection with the incident, while two other defendants were convicted of intimidating a witness before the trial.

West Midlands Police said the four men and one woman were given sentences ranging from one year and nine months to three years.

The men found guilty of witness intimidation were sentenced to three years and six months, and 195 days, the force said.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Clews, said: "Swinder was a well-loved family man and respected member of the community, an innocent victim shot dead outside his own bar.

"He was murdered as a result of a trivial incident being elevated beyond comprehension by individuals intent on using violence to protect the reputation of one of their group.

"Tragically on that night, one of the group, Sanghera, brought with him a gun, which was fired towards the crowd and fatally wounded Swinder."

She said the investigation had been challenged throughout, particularly because of threats and intimidation to witnesses.

"The seven defendants have all refused to fully accept their part in a conspiracy to commit violent disorder that ultimately resulted in the murder of Swinder," she said.

"As a result, Swinder's family have had to additionally endure a lengthy trial.

"At no stage has the gunman Sanghera shown any remorse for the murder, failing to even accept his presence at the scene that night.

"Although perhaps little consolation for the family, I am thankful that this man has been convicted."