A father who was tied up, beaten and left to die in his home had won thousands of pounds at an exclusive Mayfair casino hours earlier — and may have been the victim of a pre-planned “honey-trap”, the Standard revealed. Professional gambler Mehmet Hassan, 56, was last seen leaving Palm Beach, in Berkeley Street, on Sunday evening after winning £3,000 at poker.
He is said to have gone for a celebration meal at nearby Michelin-starred restaurant Nobu with a woman in her twenties before returning home to Islington.
His bound body was found in the bedroom of his locked flat at 8.30pm on Monday when his daughter called police after he failed to answer the door.
Friends fear that Hassan, who had two grown-up children and who was separated from his wife, was caught up in a “honey-trap”.
He was said to have kept at least £20,000 in cash in his second-floor flat on a former council estate in Baxter Road. Police say they are trying to establish what had been stolen from the property.
A friend — who was one of the last people to speak to Hassan — said: “I phoned him up on Sunday night to see how the poker was going. He said he wasn’t in the casino, he was in Nobu in Mayfair. He told me he was with a 24-year-old girl he’d met in the street.
“He always had money. He had a lot of money in the flat, I would say he had about £20,000. Whoever went there knew there was money in the flat. It was a set-up.”
Friends yesterday paid tribute to a “born gambler” who grew up in Bethnal Green, playing cards in the Kray twins’ illicit gambling dens and rising to be one of the most respected players in the West End’s high-rolling casinos.
Professional poker player Ross Boatman, who became known for his role as fireman Kevin Medhurst in TV series London’s Burning, told the Standard: “Mehmet was a born gambler. He was a wonderful, warm man — the original lovable rogue — and he’d gamble on anything. He loved to bet and, win or lose, it never affected him.
“He was always prepared to put everything on the line and shoot for the stars. He was an extraordinary man and could turn a tenner into £100,000 and lose it just as quickly. “It never seemed to bother him. He was always looking for the next chance. It wasn’t about the money, it was the thrill of gambling. He was fearless.”
Boatman, 50, added: “I heard that he had won £3,000 on Sunday but that’s peanuts. That’s not the kind of money that would constitute any kind of celebration. That kind of money changes hands every five minutes.”
Hassan’s best friend Andrew “Giddy” Perendes said: “Mem was born with a pack of cards in his hands. He was a gambler since he was 11 years old. We’ve known each other since we were eight. We have never worked, we have always gambled. Mem was one of the best all-round card players I have ever known. He was a very generous man and a big winner.” Perendes, 65, who wrote his life story in his memoirs Life Is A Gamble, said: “Mem was very well liked. He had no enemies. I’m really devastated.
“He could have been anything he wanted but he chose to live on his wits. No one deserves to go that way, to get battered to death in your own flat.”
A worker at Palm Beach, which describes itself as the most exclusive casino in Mayfair, said Hassan played poker there three or four times a week, spending hundreds of pounds. The worker said: “He was a regular. I believe he was here on Sunday night. He played poker every week and he came in at least every other day, sometimes up to four times a week.”
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