“Don’t be scared. I’m sorry my love.”
These were the last words Mehmet Koray Alpergin said to his girlfriend Gozde Dalbudak before the radio DJ was stripped naked and tortured to death.
A group of “sadistic thugs” took it in turns to land punches and kicks, hit him with a baseball bat, scald him with boiling water, stab his feet and violate him, the Old Bailey heard.
Prosecutors said the “only mercy” was he could not have survived these terrible injuries for more than a few hours.
The 43-year-old’s death in an empty wine bar near the Tottenham Hotspur ground was a far cry from his glamorous lifestyle played out online.
On Instagram, he was pictured in exotic locations around the world, relaxing on a yacht or behind the wheel of a fast car, and mingling with celebrities including rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs and the chef Salt Bae.
Originally from Northern Cyprus, Mr Alpergin was a well-known and popular figure in the British Turkish community and the owner of Bizim FM, a Turkish language radio station based in London.
But he was heavily in debt, owing more than £32,000 for his Audi – which had been fitted with a tracking device by his enemies – and was said by prosecutors to have been mixed up in the world of drugs and serious organised crime.
Exactly what he had done to upset the men that killed him is not known but, after he came back from Turkey in the summer of last year, a friend said he had not been his usual “happy-go-lucky” self and seemed “anxious”.
He told her he had said the wrong thing to the wrong people and they wanted to question him about it.
Prosecutors suggested he was punished for having upset someone or tortured for what he knew – perhaps the whereabouts of either drugs or cash.
Kidnapped after dinner in Mayfair
On the evening of 13 October last year, he took 34-year-old Ms Dalbudak out to dinner at the upmarket Novikov restaurant in Mayfair, central London.
Ms Dalbudak had arrived from Turkey on her first visit to the UK just a few days earlier and Mr Alpergin gave her a tour of the sights.
Meanwhile, in what was described by prosecutors as like a “military operation” at their “headquarters” in a Turkish cafe in Edmonton, north London, their kidnappers were following the movement of the tracker on a mobile phone.
A “big guy” giving a briefing said: “It will be easy. But don’t let him get to his phone,” the court heard.
A convoy, including a white van and two cars, were said to have been involved in the operation to snatch the couple as they arrived back at Mr Alpergin’s flat in Enfield, north London.
He put up a fight but was caught and bundled into the back of the van. Ms Dalbudak told how she was led to the vehicle and shoved inside at knifepoint by a masked man who told her to “shut up”.
With a man sat on top of her, the court heard she was “scared, weeping and screaming” when someone hit her on the side of her nose, which started bleeding, before she was punched again and passed out.
When she woke up inside the dark Stadium Lounge wine bar, Ms Dalbudak was 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”.
While he was tortured, 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.
In a state of panic and crying, Ms Dalbudak shouted but was told to shut up by her captors, who intermittently fed her some chicken and potatoes, Coca-Cola and water.
The kidnappers took her mobile phone and jewellery – a yellow Cartier watch and a diamond heart-shape necklace – and 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”.
Victim suffered 94 separate injuries
Ms Dalbudak spoke to police but went back to Turkey on 21 October and has never returned to the UK – even refusing to give evidence by video-link from abroad.
Mr Alpergin’s naked body, which had suffered 94 separate injuries, was dumped in Essex woodland and found by a dog walker.
Six men stood trial at the Old Bailey but two were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Tejean Kennedy, 33, of Cricklewood Broadway, and Ali Kavak, 26, from Tottenham, north London, were found guilty of the kidnap and false imprisonment of the couple and Mr Alpergin’s manslaughter.
Samuel Owusu-Opoku, 35, of Wood Green, north London, was found guilty of two counts of kidnap, while Steffan Gordon, 34, of Northolt, west London, who had admitted kidnap, 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 admitted the charge.
They will be sentenced alongside Yigit Hurman, 18, from Muswell Hill, north London, who previously admitted perverting the course of justice, on 12 December.
Giving evidence, Kavak said he did not know what was going on and claimed he disposed of the body while “under duress”, while Gordon also denied knowledge of what was happening.
None of the men revealed the identity of the person or gang that Mr Alpergin had angered or told jurors why he was targeted.
“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 prosecutor Crispin 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.”
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