After two weeks of deliberations, a jury at the Old Bailey have found two men guilty of killing Mehmet Koray Alpergin.
The popular Turkish radio DJ and his girlfriend Gözde Dalbudak were kidnapped outside Mr Alpergin’s Enfield home after a night out in central London last October, the court had heard.
The pair were taken to Stadium Lounge, a disused venue at the time on Tottenham High Road, where Ms Dalbudak was locked in a toilet as a group of “sadistic thugs” took it in turns to beat, stab, throttle scald, stab and violate Mr Alpergin before dumping his naked body in woodland by an industrial estate in Loughton.
A post-mortem examination had identified 94 separate injuries to the victim’s body, which was covered in cuts and bruises. Ms Dalbudak was freed after two days.
Vehicles bearing false number plates used by the gang were later burnt out.
Prosector Crispin Aylett KC told jurors the attack on Mr Alpergin bore “all the hallmarks of being linked to serious, organised crime – almost certainly drugs.”
Mr. Aylett said: “From the number and nature of the injuries that were sustained, the prosecution suggests that it is not hard to envisage a group of sadistic thugs taking it in turns to inflict injury, whether with punches and kicks, hitting him with a bat, scalding him with boiling water, stabbing his feet.”
Four out of six men tried were found guilty
Six men had been tried for a variety of offences.
After extensive deliberations, the jury acquitted Tejean Kennedy, 33, and Ali Kavak, 26, of murder but found the two men guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and manslaughter.
They also found Samuel Owusu-Opoku, 35, guilty of two counts of kidnap. Steffan Gordon, 34, had admitted kidnap and was found guilty of two counts of false imprisonment.
Kavak was also convicted of perverting the course of justice by helping to dispose of Mr Alpergin’s body and destroying two vehicles by fire. Owusu-Opoku had admitted the same charge.
Kennedy, of Cricklewood Broadway, Kavak, of Tottenham, Gordon, of Northolt, and Owusu-Opoku, of Wood Green, were remanded into custody to be sentenced on 12 December.
This is another key part of the Koray Alpergin story. This is 79 Pretoria Road North in Tottenham. The trial heard that the upstairs of this building was a Turkish cafe and the abduction of Alpergin was allegedly plotted there by Cem Orman, Ali Yildirim & associates. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/TU7wbl3FRt
— Total Crime (@totalcrime) November 10, 2023
The four will be joined by Yiğit Hurman, 18, of Muswell Hill, who had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Two other defendants were cleared of wrongdoing. Junior Kettle, 32, who had been tried on suspicion of kidnap, false imprisonment and murder, was acquitted of all charges.
Erdoğan Ulcay, 56, was acquitted of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Two key suspects, Ali Yıldırım and Cem Orman, are believed to have fled abroad.
Two other men, who were charged with the kidnap, false imprisonment, and murder of Mr. Alpergin in October 2023, are due to go on trial next year.
Why was Koray Alpergin killed?
Mr Alpergin, who was a co-founder of Bizim FM and more latterly, Kral FM (UK), was a well-known and liked member of the Turkish community who regularly posted photos of his flamboyant life that saw him mix with both Turkish and international celebrities, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Salt Bae.
The court could not establish what the motive behind his killing was, although it did hear the DJ was heavily in debt, owing £32,405 for his Audi as well as other claims against him.
Prosecutors suggested Mr Alpergin may have been mixed up in the world of drugs and serious organised crime, but it was not clear what he had done to upset the men that killed him.
Friends said that after he came back from Turkiye after a long summer break there in 2022, that he had not been his usual “happy-go-lucky” self and seemed “anxious”.
One friend testified that Koray had told her he had ‘said the wrong thing to the wrong people and they wanted to question him about it.’
It led prosecutors to speculate that Mr Alpergin was punished for having upset someone or tortured for what he knew – perhaps the whereabouts of either drugs or cash.
Mr Alpergin’s car had been fitted with a tracker. When he and his girlfriend returned to his Oakwood flat from a night out at Novikov restaurant in Mayfair on 13 October 2022, a group of masked men, some armed with knives, were there waiting to ambush them having plotted their actions at a café in Edmonton.
An unnamed “big guy” gave the gang a briefing, saying: “It will be easy. But don’t let him [Koray Alpergin] get to his phone,” the court heard.
Mr Alpergin and Ms Dalbudak were violently subdued as they were bundled into a van and taken to an empty wine bar in Tottenham, formerly the Ezgi Türkü Bar, whose front entrance is virtually opposite Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The gang had gained access to the venue via its back entrance on White Hart Lane.
When she woke up inside the dark Stadium Lounge wine bar, Ms Dalbudak found that she had been blindfolded with her wrists tied together in front of her. She heard Mr Alpergin telling her: “My love, don’t be scared” and “Sorry, my love”.
As the gang tortured Mr Alpergin, Ms Dalbudak told police she was held in a filthy lavatory with her hands tied to her arms and feet. She eventually managed to free the bindings from her hands using her teeth.
The kidnappers, who had taken her mobile phone and jewellery – a yellow Cartier watch and a diamond heart-shape necklace – had fed her intermittently and told her to “shut up”. At some point, she was given a jacket and a hat to keep her warm.
She was held for around 48 hours before being led out of the building by men with their faces covered, who told her: “No police” and “Do not look. Go with your head down”.
And this is the courtyard at the rear of the Stadium Lounge, where Alpergin’s body was transferred to Ali Kavak’s car. Kavak and four other men deny murder. The trial continues (2/2) pic.twitter.com/jTxDAXIUiW
— Total Crime (@totalcrime) November 8, 2023
Unrecognisable because of her bloodied face and ragged looks, Ms Dalbudak took a cab to a Turkish restaurant in Islington, Mem & Laz, that Mr Alpergin had previously taken her and whose owner was his friend. From there, she was able to call her family in Turkiye.
After giving her testimony to police, Ms Dalbudak returned to her home in Turkiye and refused to return to give evidence in court.
Three of the six men being tried, Tejean Kennedy, Samuel Owusu-Opuku and Erdogan Ulcay, chose not to give evidence.
None of the men arrested revealed what Mr Alpergin had done or whom he had upset to be targeted the way he was.
“If Mr Alpergin’s family and friends came to this trial expecting to find out what it was that he had done that had upset so many people, if they had hoped to find out what this was about, then they would be sadly disappointed,” said Mr Aylett KC.
“It must’ve been something really bad to make so many people get involved in making an example of him in such a terrible way.”