TWO members of staff, including a dock officer, at Winchester Crown Court have tested positive for Covid-19,

Yesterday (Thursday) the trial of five men accused of being involved in the murder of Gurinderjit Rai was not able to take place after the court was alerted that a dock officer in the case had been diagnosed with the virus.

Mr Rai, 30, was found shot in a layby in Corhampton on July 13, 2019.

The case is taking place in two courts due to social distancing guidelines, meaning that two of the defendants, Corin Barlow and Paul White, have this week been sat in a separate court.

Speaking to the jury Mrs Justice Cutts today said: “As you know we live in difficult times, we discovered that the dock officer who sits with the defendants in the adjoining court had tested positive for Covid that meant that the court couldn’t be used because it had to be thoroughly cleaned.

“It so had a knock-on effect to those sitting in the dock.”

Mrs Justice Cutts said that Barlow and White now have to self-isolate and will hear the case via video link as they remain in custody.

Barlow, from Horley, Surrey; White, 27, of Dyson Drive, Abbotts Barton; Aston Hannis, 29, of Leah Gardens, Eastleigh; Statham, 30, of Crescent Close, Oliver's Battery all deny murder.

Today Barlow pleaded guilty to being in possession of a shortened shotgun without a certificate.

Philip Hodan, 43, of Longwood Dean Lane, Owslebury, denies participating in the criminal activities of an organised crime group.

Following the alert part of the building was temporarily closed while the clean was undertaken, but most of the court business continued throughout the day.

A HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesperson told the Chronicle: “A section of the building was deep cleaned as a precaution after two external staff members tested positive for Covid-19.”

There was also doubt over whether some sentences were able to take place yesterday for those who were likely to be jailed due to the absence of dock officers.