Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Drug dealer jailed after Michael Freshwater murder probe

Kassel Gayle Image copyright Hampshire Police
Image caption Kassel Gayle was on the run from police when he was spotted at Gatwick Airport last year

A man involved in a drugs ring that was exposed during inquiries into a murder has been jailed for 16 years.

Kassel Gayle, 25, was arrested on suspicion of drug offences connected to the killing of 49-year-old Michael Freshwater in Southampton in 2016.

Gayle went on the run after being released under investigation, but was detained by police at Gatwick Airport in June last year.

He had pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs and an unrelated robbery.

Gayle, of Norwood in south-east London, is the seventh man to be sentenced for drug offences connected to the investigation into Mr Freshwater's murder.

Mr Freshwater was found dead at a flat in the Portswood area of Southampton in April 2016.

An inquest into his death heard he was stabbed when he stormed into the property with a sawn-off shotgun to rob a group of men dealing cocaine and heroin.

Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Michael Freshwater was found stabbed to death at a property in Southampton on 29 April 2016

The resulting investigation led to five men being jailed and another man receiving a suspended sentence for drug offences. Nobody has been charged over the killing.

Hampshire Police said Gayle, whose photo had appeared on BBC One's Crimewatch programme, was seen acting suspiciously at Gatwick Airport in 2018.

An "eagle-eyed" officer spotted a distinctive tattoo on Gayle's neck, an image of which had been circulated to police nationally, the force said.

Gayle initially gave police false details but a mobile fingerprint machine confirmed his identity.

Following the conviction at Kingston Crown Court, Det Con Steve Norridge, who led the investigation into Mr Freshwater's death, said: "We weren't going to stop until we had the whole network behind bars.

"I can only extend my gratitude to the officer at Gatwick Airport for his intuition and tenacity for acting on his suspicions and identifying Gayle so we could put him before a court."

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