Two Turkish gangsters who executed an associate before burying him in Epping Forest were caught after CCTV captured one of the killers in a DIY shop as he practiced digging the shallow grave.
Yilmaz Coskun, 36, and Remzi Akguc, 41, were today (Tue) found guilty of murdering Hidir Aksakal, 47, who was shot four times following a row over one of the killers’ girlfriends at a fish restaurant.
The final bullet – fired from a gun believed to have been held inside his mouth – ‘literally blew a hole in the top of his skull,’ the Old Bailey heard.
His corpse remained undisturbed for three weeks until a lone walker strayed from the path to look at cobwebs in a dark area of the woods.
Asad Mukhter then made the gruesome discovery of a ‘foul smelling sack’ near the banks of an area known as ‘Hollow Pond’ on 8 September last year.
Mr Aksakal’s dead body had been tied up with rope, wrapped in a tarpaulin and buried in a shallow grave.
The victim, who was known as ‘Boxer Cetin’, was himself cleared of murder at the Old Bailey in 2002.
Investigations led police to Coskun’s Tottenham home where Mr Aksakal met his demise in the early hours of 17 August last year.
The gun used to kill him was found in the foliage behind 34 Templeton Road, while it was later discovered Akguc had been to a builders’ merchants on the day of the murder.
CCTV from the Stoke Newington branch of Travis Perkins caught Akguc buying a shovel, tarpaulin, rope, trolley and gloves, costing more than £230.
The chilling footage even showed him trying out the shovel for size as he performed a practice digging action in the shop.
Both Coskun and Akguc admitted they were involved in disposing of the victim’s body but each blamed the other for the killing.
Their cutthroat defence led to fireworks in court as they gave evidence against each other and unusually were not allowed in the dock together as the verdicts were returned.
But they are both facing a life sentence today (Tue) after a jury of eight women and four men found them guilty of murder and preventing a lawful burial.
As he was led to the cells, Coskun told jurors who convicted him on a majority of ten to two: ‘Wrong decision, wrong decision. I never done nothing wrong. You’re going to live with this.’
Judge Richard Marks QC said he will sentence the pair tomorrow (WED).
A third suspect, Metin Cuce, is still being hunted by police and he is believed to be in Turkey.
The court heard Mr Aksakal, described as ‘not a small man’, had gone to meet his two alleged killers on 16 August last year.
They were seen arriving together at a fish restaurant in Green Lanes at around 12.30am.
The owner of the Sariyer Balik restaurant said they appeared drunk and that he saw an argument between Coskun and Mr Aksakal during which the victim denied having said something to Coskun’s girlfriend.
The argument died down and the group left with Cuce in the early hours after Coskun heard to tell Mr Aksakal: ‘If we leave we leave together.’
Mr Aksakal was last seen alive in a minicab speaking Turkish with two other noisy passengers who seemed drunk.
‘It is the prosecution case that the two men travelling in the back of the taxi to Templeton Road were these two defendants,’ said prosecutor Ed Brown QC.
It was not until 8 September that Asad Mukhter, who was out walking alone, came across Mr Aksakal’s shallow grave.
‘He was some way off the beaten track when he made the gruesome discovery of a foul smelling sack in a water logged area,’ said Mr Brown.
‘Once he got a little closer he was able to see that whatever it was, was protruding from what appeared still to be freshly dug earth.’
The frightened walker did not raise the alarm until the following day when police arrived to find Mr Aksakal’s body.
Still clothed, he had been wrapped in tarpaulin and buried in that shallow grave.
His hands and legs had been tightly bound with pieces of blue rope while a new-looking shovel was found dumped in water nearby.
Mr Aksakal, from Margate, Kent, was identified by his fingerprints and a postmortem revealed four gunshot injuries.
There were two bullet wounds to the chest, one to the left arm and one to the head.
Mr Brown explained: ‘This appeared to have been caused by a gun being discharged whist the muzzle of the weapon was inside the deceased’s mouth.
‘The round had travelled upwards and backwards, exiting through the top of the head. This wound would have been instantly fatal, obviously.’
He told jurors the disposal of the body was ‘no quick and easy task’ and said: ‘This was plainly not the work of one man and not the work of anyone acting out of duress or fear you may easily conclude.
On 3 August, Wednesday, they were both sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 32 years.
During the trial, the court heard that after shooting Hidir Aksakal four times, they wrapped him in tarpaulin and concealed the body in woods close to Hollow Ponds, along Whipps Cross Road, E11.
The jury returned unanimous verdicts on both charges in relation to Akguc while they convicted Coskun by a majority of 10-2 for the murder, and unanimously for preventing a lawful burial.