Poker player ‘killed for winnings’


Published: Tuesday 17th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A professional poker player was killed for his stash of winnings after being lured into a honey trap by a young woman he met at a casino, a court heard.

Mehmet Hassan, 56, was bound with parcel tape and a neck tie and then kicked and stamped to death in the bedroom of his Islington flat in March last year.

The attackers, who then ransacked his home looking for cash, were let in by 25-year-old care assistant Leonie Granger, who Mr Hassan had met at a Mayfair casino the month before, jurors were told.

Afterwards, while he lay dead in a pool of blood, Granger and her accomplices were filmed on her mobile phone throwing £50 notes around and stuffing wads in underpants, the court heard.

Granger is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of murder and false imprisonment alongside her boyfriend Kyrron Jackson and his close friend Nicholas Chandler, both 28.

Opening the case, Crispin Aylett QC said: “When Miss Granger was arrested, the police seized her mobile phone. It appears that she had attempted to delete much of the incriminating material stored in that telephone.

“Nonetheless, among the items that have survived is a piece of film which appears to have been recorded on the morning of Monday 24 March.

“Miss Granger, Jackson and Chandler can each be seen holding bundles of £50 notes. At one point Chandler is spraying £50 notes all over the floor while Jackson is stuffing £50 notes into his underpants.

“While Mr Hassan’s body lay undetected in his flat, his killers were literally throwing his money around.”

The jury was shown the video in which Jackson’s face was obscured by a gas mask.

Mr Hassan was described as a professional gambler who sometimes won as much as £15,000 at a time.

Rather than using bank accounts, he would stash his winnings around his flat, even keeping thousands of pounds in his microwave.

He was known to have two favourite casinos in Mayfair – the Playboy Casino on Old Park Lane and the Palm Beach Casino in Berkeley Street.

The divorced father-of-three also “enjoyed the company of women”, making him “vulnerable to the unscrupulous”, Mr Aylett said.

He would regularly be seen arriving at a casino with an attractive woman on his arm or meeting one there, jurors were told.

The prosecutor said the victim met Granger in February last year at the Palm Beach Casino and they saw each other again on March 15 when she went back to his flat before “she made an excuse and left”.

The court heard Mr Hassan was “flattered” by the attention and had joked with friends that she was with him without him even having to pay her.

But Mr Aylett said: “The truth, sadly, is that Miss Granger was not interested in Mehmet Hassan for anything other than his money. And that is how Mehmet Hassan came to be tied up and kicked to death in his own flat.”

The court heard that on the evening of Sunday March 23, Granger met the victim for a drink before going on to the Palm Beach Casino where they were seen kissing passionately.

They left before midnight and went back to Mr Hassan’s flat. About half an hour later, Mr Hassan booked a mini-cab which took Granger to an address in Lewisham.

The court was told the cab driver overheard her on her phone exclaiming: “Swear down! I don’t believe it. =Don’t tell me the money’s not there! I saw it. Look in the drawer. Look under the cabinet.”

The jury was told she was speaking to someone using Mr Hassan’s phone suggesting it was one of her conspirators who had planned to go to the flat and overpower Mr Hassan.

His body was found by police on the evening of March 24 last year after his sister became concerned that she could not get hold of him.

When police tracked down Granger and told her about his death, she began to cry and claimed that two of his friends had turned up and begun sniffing cocaine so she left.

But when officers examined her phone, they found the video of the defendants throwing £50 notes around which was taken the day after the killing.

The prosecutor told the jury that Mr Hassan’s death was the “culmination of the ruthless greed” of Jackson and Chandler who had been involved in two armed robberies at the same casino in South Kensington in January and February last year.

In each case, guns were used and the victims were tied up and subjected to violence, Mr Aylett said.

Jackson and Chandler are further accused of robbing Mr Hassan, two counts of plotting to rob employees of Grosvenor Casinos, two counts of conspiracy to have a shotgun and imitation firearm in January last year, and two counts of conspiracy to falsely imprison.

Granger, of Gillingham, Kent; Jackson, of Romborough Way, Lewisham, south-east London; and Chandler, of Lee High Road, south-east London, deny the charges against them.

Published: Tuesday 17th February 2015 by The News Editor

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