Seven May Face Charges in British Poker Murder of Mehmet Hassan
London authorities have charged seven people in the tragic murder of popular British poker player Mehmet Hassan, whose body was found in his Islington flat a week ago after Hassan’s relatives asked authorities to conduct a welfare check after being unable to contact Hassan following an evening on the town.
Authorities quickly determined that Hassan, 56, had likely been the victim of a so-called “honey trap” robbery, in which a female companion enlists others to participate in a home invasion and robbery. 24-year-old Leone (alt. Leonie) Granger, who was Hassan’s companion during a post-poker trip to the swanky Nobu restaurant, is one of the seven people arrested and charged thus far. UK tabloid reports depict Granger as a low-paid worker in the heathcare industry, despite her association with Hassan and the high-rolling London poker scene.
According to UK reports, Granger accompanied Hassan to Nobu following a healthy £3,000 cash-game win at the Mayfair district’s Palm Beach Casino, one of several casinos that Hassan frequented. Following the restaurant excursion, Granger and Hassan returned to his second-story flat, where Granger’s accomplices soon followed, targeting not only the £3,000 in winnings but another £20,000 or so that Hassan was rumored to keep on hand as his day-to-day poker bankroll.
The gang of (probably) six men, aged 18 to 34, left Hassan beaten and bound in the flat, where he eventually succumbed to chest and neck injuries.
In addition to Granger, a report today at KentonOnline.uk names two of the alleged accomplices, Nicholas Chandler, 28, of Bow and Kyrran Jackson, 27 of Lewisham. The three, including Granger, appeared in magistrate court in connection with the murder.
The honey-trap scenario targeting high-stakes poker players has been seen on other occasions, most recently in the home-invasion robbery of the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, Canada’s Jonathan Duhamel.
Like Hassan, Duhamel was victimized by a female companion who enlisted a group of accomplices in the robbery, and in similar manner Duhamel was beaten and bound, losing a large amount of cash and his WSOP bracelet in the robbery. Duhamel’s former girlfriend, Bianca Rojas-Latraverse, is one of several defendants in that case who remains jailed in connection with the crime. The WSOP later replaced Duhamel’s stolen bracelet, which was eventually recovered, though extensively damaged.
Hassan suffered a harsher fate in this latest honey-trap episode, with condolences pouring in from across the UK and European poker scenes. EPT creator John Duthie and noted British poker broadcaster, columnist and player Vicki Coren, and Hendon Mob co-founder Ross Boatman were among those expressing their sadness at the news of Hassan’s untimely death.
Hassan himself preferred cash games to tourney play, notching only a couple of official tournament cashes in his career. Nonetheless, he was a longtime participant in the UK poker scene, fondly regarded by many of his poker-world companions.