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Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor
Two Turkish men face years behind bars after becoming embroiled in a dramatic street shoot-out with an armed officer.
Balaclava-wearing Sedat Meric fired at a north London pool bar three times in a revenge attack before turning his gun on the officer identified only as NC32 who tried to stop him.
Meric then fired eight rounds towards the officer, who ducked for cover behind a car.
He only gave himself up after he ran out of bullets.
The prosecution said the armed officer clearly identified himself, but the court heard he did not have time to put his police cap on and Meric fired in self defence thinking he was a Turkish gangster.
Meric and his accomplice Oktay Ayanoglu were found not guilty of attempted murder of NC32 but guilty of possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life on May 23 this year following a trial at the Old Bailey.
The group’s alleged leader Bulent Eren was earlier cleared of the offences after the jury decided it could not be certain that he was the man who had stayed by the getaway car and fled before he could be apprehended.
Adjourning sentencing to January 9, judge Michael Topolski warned Meric and Ayanoglu to expect “significant terms of imprisonment”.
He said: “This was – on the evidence – a response to a set of circumstances, a dramatic and out of character response.”
The court had heard the National Crime Agency officers were at the scene to protect Eren from a potential threat which may have emanated from the bar and had not expected him to arrive there armed.
Eren, 35, from Liverpool, and others were involved in a “bitter and violent argument” with another group associated with West Green Road Pool Bar in Haringey, jurors were told.
The prosecution said they had gone to the club for an “armed revenge attack” following a fight in Tottenham less than 24 hours earlier, involving baseball bats, billiard cues and metal poles.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, NC32 recalled the dramatic gun fight, saying that he returned fire because he felt his life and the lives of members of the public were in danger.
He told jurors: “I thought he fired at least two shots.
“My reaction was of shock and having to make a decision on what I was going to do and his reaction was to turn back the way he had come from.
“I started to run across the road.
“While I was running across the road, I drew my pistol from my right hip and shouted to him ‘armed police, stand still’.”
He was about 15 to 20 metres away when the gunman reacted, NC32 said: “He turned to face me and he brought his pistol up and fired at me.
“I returned fire with a single round.”
The gunman carried on running into Carlingford Road and the officer made the decision to get into some cover on the opposite side of the road behind a car, the court heard.
He said: “As I moved down the side of the vehicle I am bobbing up and down.
“I can see the male on the opposite pavement and he is looking at me.
“I continue to shout ‘armed police’ and ‘police’ and got to the end of the first vehicle and he fires again at me.”
Asked how many times he was shot at, the officer said: “It just sounds and feels like a continuous round being fired at me.
“I continue shouting ‘armed police’, hoping he would stop firing and it was at this point that I fired again at the male on the opposite side of the road.
“He immediately returned fire again at me.
“The firing had stopped.
“I came up and looked towards him and could see he was throwing the gun to his right hand side and putting his hands in the air.
“He did so saying something to the effect ‘okay, okay’.
“It was a gesture of surrender.”
The officer said he realised he would have to go towards the gunman and get control of him as none of his colleagues had yet arrived.
“I had my gun on aim and closed the gap towards him and I told him to turn and put his hands up against the wall,” he said.
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC asked NC32 why he fired.
The officer replied: “Because I thought I was in danger of my life and I believed if he had carried on, any member of the public was in danger of their life.”
Meric was apprehended along with Ayanoglu, who had tried to run back to the Vauxhall Signum.
The car was driven off by a getaway driver and was later found burnt out.
The court heard that 11 spent cartridges from Meric’s pistol littered the pavement and road after the incident and bullets were found embedded in the pool club building.
On the day of the shoot-out, the Arctic Monkeys were performing at nearby Finsbury Park and people were sitting drinking on a grassy bank opposite the pool bar.
Meric, 25, from north London, and Ayanoglu, 22, from north London, were found guilty of the attempted murder of NC32 and possession of a 9mm self loading pistol with intent to endanger life.
Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Shaun Fitzgerald said: “Meric went out that evening intent on causing fear and intimidation and with no regard for who may have got caught up in the crossfire. Shooting at officers of the law highlights his complete disregard.
“I commend the officers from the National Crime Agency for their bravery in the face of an armed man. It is sheer luck that no one was injured as a result of this incident and it highlights the inherent dangers present when carrying a gun.”
Rob Lewin, head of the NCA’s Specialist Operations Unit, added: ”The NCA officer demonstrated professionalism and bravery in the face of extreme danger. All NCA firearms officers are trained to the highest standards; the measured and proportionate actions of the officer protected the public in what was a highly volatile situation.”
Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor