Man survived ‘movie-like assassination’ after men hired to kill him by ‘Mr Big’

Two contract killers have been jailed for life after accepting £100,000 from a Dubai-based “Mr Big” in exchange for killing a stranger.

An unidentified assassin dressed as a Tesco worker shot the victim five times after knocking at his door, asking "are you expecting a delivery?"

At a previous appearance at Birmingham Crown Court, Craig Miller, 37, Elijah Stokes, 38, and Connor Palmer, 40, were all convicted for conspiracy to murder with Palmer and Miller reappearing yesterday (May 6) for sentencing.

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Miller, of Epsom, Surrey, Stokes, of Earlsdon, Coventry and Palmer, of Norbury, South London have since been handed lengthy terms for their part in paying the unnamed hitman £40,000 to carry out the job.

Palmer has been given 23 years minimum, while Miller will see the inside of a cell for a minimum of 30 years.

Stokes has also been sentenced for 27 years.

Jurors had heard how the men were ordered to carry out the killing of a target who owed money to a UK drug dealer living in Dubai in May 2020.

One man, dressed in the Tesco uniform entered the house when the man’s partner opened the door and soon began firing at him inside the property while a small child was in.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Pepperall said: "The victim came into view in the hallway and the gunman then pursued his prey as he attempted to escape in the front room. Five bullets hit him.

"I am sure that that you Palmer and Miller were professional hitmen working together with another man.

"You were each prepared to kill to order for a fee of £100,000.

"You went about your business with ruthless efficiency showing no compassion whatsoever to your victim.

"He only survived due to the ineptitude of the gunman and extraordinary good luck.

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"You were embarrassed that the hit had been bungled."

Stokes was described as a “trusted lieutenant” and then described all three as "very dangerous men".

The men had been communicating on the criminal-preferred encrypted messaging service EncroChat, but police managed to crack their conversation.

Detectives would later uncover another hit sent to Miller from the dealer in Dubai which included a photo with the caption "That's him".

"Clips going in his head," Miller replied.

The gunman has never been identified, although Stokes arranged for the car and the gun to be delivered to them.

The injuries received by the victim were life-threatening and saw him put in intensive care for a week – not all of the five bullets were able to be removed.

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Simon Ash KC, prosecuting, said: "He will have serious long-term scars to his face and body as a result of the shooting."

Detective Inspector Gemma Currie, of West Midlands Police, said: "The messages we uncovered as part of this investigation make for truly chilling reading and are like something from a movie.

"It was a miracle that the victim of the shooting in Sheldon survived.

"It was thanks to the EncroChat breakthrough that we were unable to unravel this conspiracy to murder.

"The gang thought that they were able to communicate securely about their murderous plans.

"But thanks to the international law enforcement community, we were able to show exactly what they were planning and how they planned it."

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