Whether hitting the slopes, watching the Formula One racing in Abu Dhabi or puffing away on a cigar in Venice, Koray Alpergin wanted the world to know he was living the good life.
The celebrities in his social media snaps simply served to reinforce the point – the Turkish restaurateur Salt Bae and the rapper Sean Combs, better known as P Diddy, among them.
‘Let life come as it wants,’ observed the 43-year-old DJ, using the moniker ‘The King’, in a post to his 10,000-odd Instagram followers.
Another simply read: ‘Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on….’
For Gozde Dalbudak, his new girlfriend, those words would assume a terrible significance.
Returning from a Mayfair restaurant last October on her first visit to England, she was by his side when the couple walked in to a real-life nightmare – a ‘story’ of such brutality it could have come straight out of the gangster movie Reservoir Dogs.
The murdered Dj Koray Alpergin, pictured with celebrity chef Salt Bae, was kidnapped from outside his London home, tortured and murdered
Turkish DJ Mr Alpergin, 43, smoking a cigar as he lived the high life
Mr Alpergin was the owner of Turkish radio station Bizim FM and had connections with celebrities such as rapper P Diddy. His girlfriend Gozde Dalbudak was bound, blindfolded and locked in a toilet for two days while her boyfriend was tortured to death
The couple were allegedly held in the Stadium Lounge, or Ezgi Turku bar, in October last year
Kidnapped and bundled in to a van by masked knifemen, the pair were taken to a kebab restaurant near the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in north London.
Having been stripped naked, Mr Alpergin was then tortured – the 94 wounds inflicted on his body bearing testimony to the systematic abuse he was subjected to. He was strangled with a ligature, scalded with boiling water, stabbed in the soles of his feet and beaten with a baseball bat, suffering 14 fractured ribs. Even his genitals showed signs of injury.
That Mr Alpergin’s death was truly horrific there can be no doubt. Indeed, perhaps the only mercy was that his suffering was relatively short – a matter of hours rather than days, according to the findings of a post-mortem.
Ms Dalbudak, 34, was introduced to Mr Alpergin, 43, by a mutual friend in Turkey. She is now in hiding
As for Ms Dalbudak, after 48 hours she would eventually escape. Battered and bruised, what she experienced would be impossible to forget.
Indeed the 34-year-old was left so traumatised by her ordeal that she refused to return to Britain from her home in Turkey to give evidence in the Old Bailey trial of six men variously accused of murder, kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.
On Thursday, that ten-week hearing came to an end with the conviction of two thugs for the killing of Mr Alpergin, with other gang members found guilty of abducting the couple.
But despite their conviction the reality is that many unanswered questions remain, including why Mr Alpergin’s killers chose to torture him in the way they did. All those charged denied having anything to do with his death.
Speaking from his home in Turkey earlier this week, Mr Alpergin’s father Tuncay told the Daily Mail that he believed his son’s lifestyle had made him a target.
‘Turkish gangs were jealous of the life he lived,’ he said. ‘They wanted £150,000 but they killed him.’
While he declined to explain further, the jury was told that no attempt had in fact been made to extort a ransom from his friends and family.
But given the nature of the crime, investigators concluded that the killing bore all the hallmarks of being linked to serious, organised crime – and was almost certainly drug-related.
‘From the number and nature of the injuries that were sustained, the prosecution suggest that it is not hard to envisage a group of sadistic thugs taking it in turns to inflict injury,’ prosecutor Crispin Aylett KC told the court. ‘The prosecution allege that Koray Alpergin was kidnapped and tortured either so that he might be punished for something that he had done or else forced to give up something that he knew – perhaps the whereabouts of either drugs or money – and which his kidnappers also wanted to know.’
The body of DJ Koray Alpergin, 43, was discovered near the Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate in Loughton, Essex, on October 15 last year
The 34-year-old on a trip to Rome, posted on his Instagram. There are still pictures of him and girlfriend Ms Dalbudak on the page
The 43-year-old DJ, using the moniker ‘The King’, posted to his 10,000-odd Instagram followers
As everyone knows, when it comes to social media, appearances can be deceptive.
And the glitz and glamour of Mr Alpergin’s decade-old Instagram feed belied what had been a more humble start to life. Born in Nicosia, in north Cyprus, he first came to the UK as a child, being granted British citizenship in 2001.
At much the same time he started work as a bus driver, a job he would hold for the next decade. He would also marry and have two children, although the relationship would not last.
In any case Mr Alpergin had altogether more glamorous aspirations, juggling his bus-driving with work as a disc-jockey on what was then a pirate radio station, Bizim FM.
It catered for north London’s Turkish Cypriot community and not only did Mr Alpergin play music on it, he funded and managed the station as well.
Unfortunately, as emerged during a 2010 court case, it was also unlicensed, and for a time was operating illegally. Its transmitters had been placed on the top of a tower block, and risked scrambling air traffic control and 999 communications.
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard the station was busted after Telecoms watchdog Ofcom received a complaint from competitor London Turkish Radio.
Mr Alpergin admitted a number of offences under the Wireless and Telegraphy Act, for which he received a suspended jail sentence.
Undeterred, he would continue his music career in London and abroad, going back and forth to Turkey to DJ at events and to see friends and family.
He was there again last summer but on his return to London in September, friends sensed that something was wrong.
‘He wasn’t himself,’ said Parveen Ramjeawon, who would go to the gym with him on an almost daily basis. ‘He was completely different. He’s always been a happy go lucky guy – he was very caring, very loving, always laughing, joking – he liked to have fun. When he was stressed he was very quiet. I could tell he was very stressed.
‘He said there was a lot going on in his mind. He said he had said the wrong thing to the wrong person and they wanted to question him. I asked him more but he never ever told me anything. He always kept me away from harm’s way.’
In her evidence to court she also recalled an incident in which they had been driving back from the gym in separate cars when he phoned her.
‘He said to me his car’s making a weird sound,’ she said. ‘I made a joke and asked him if his car was being bugged. He didn’t react. He went quiet.’
As it transpired, those concerns were not misplaced. Police would discover that on the night he was abducted – October 13 2022 – his Audi was being tracked with an electronic device fitted to the underside of the vehicle.
Earlier that evening he and Ms Dalbudak, whom he had met in Istanbul only that summer and who had arrived in London three days before, had eaten at a restaurant run by a friend followed by a whistlestop tour of the capital’s sights.
Arriving back at Mr Alpergin’s flat in Enfield, he got out of the car and was confronted by four men who bundled him into a white van that was parked nearby.
A figure dressed in mask and gloves and carrying a knife then approached his girlfriend, told her to ‘shut up’ and forced her in the same vehicle.
In a statement to police, she told how she was then pinned down by a man sitting on top of her and that when she started to cry she was punched in the face until she lost consciousness.
When she came to, she was inside a dark building, blindfolded and with her wrists tied together in front of her. The court heard that the couple had been taken to an empty wine bar backing on to White Hart Lane.
The jury heard that, although she could not see him, she heard Mr Alpergin telling her: ‘My love, don’t be scared’ and ‘Sorry, my love.’
From the voices and footsteps, Ms Dalbudak estimated that between ten and 15 people were there.
As Mr Alpergin was attacked she could hear him crying out in pain, but she was then locked in to a filthy lavatory where her arms were tied to her feet.
Using her teeth, she was eventually able to remove the bindings from her hands.
After being held captive for three days, Ms Dalbudak was eventually led out of the building by men whose faces were covered, given £40 for a taxi and ordered not to contact the police.
Friends and family were left heartbroken by Koray’s death – but questions remain about why he was so badly tortured
Mr Alpergin (left) was the owner of Turkish radio station Bizim FM, and had connections with celebrities such as Turkish restauranteur and internet sensation ‘Salt Bae’ (right)
Knowing no-one in London, she went to the restaurant where the couple had eaten, arriving in such a bedraggled state staff thought she was a beggar and advised her to talk to police.
By then Mr Alpergin’s naked body had been dumped in woodland near Loughton, Essex. It was found soon after by a dog walker.
A number of vehicles used in the abduction and moving of the body were also discovered by police, abandoned and burnt out. These were linked to the suspects, as were mobile phones used in the vicinity of the crime. DNA was also recovered from a number of items at the restaurant where Mr Alpergin was killed.
These included a shirt, surgical gloves, a dustpan handle, a kettle, a plastic cup, a bottle of Flash All-Purpose cleaner, a Domestos bottle, a tracking device and a mop handle.
Mr Alpergin had been wearing the shirt on the evening he was abducted.
The prosecution argued that the fact they could not say which of the defendants did what to Mr Alpergin did not matter.
‘The prosecution do not know who actually killed Koray Alpergin nor do they know which of the defendants – if any of them – even participated in the violence that was inflicted on Koray Alpergin,’ Mr Aylett told the jury.
‘As a matter of law and, you may think, as a matter of common sense, that does not matter. In law, anyone who was a party to a plan intentionally to cause Koray Alpergin at least serious bodily harm would be guilty of his murder.’
The prosecution allege that Koray Alpergin was not kidnapped in order that someone might pay a ransom for his release. Instead, he was to be tortured either as a punishment for something that he had done or else for what he knew.
Giving evidence, a number of the defendants attempted to distance themselves from what had happened.
Steffan Gordon, 34, who admitted kidnap but denied murder and false imprisonment, told jurors he believed he was taking part in a drugs robbery and that he had been asked to provide ‘muscle’ for ‘some Turkish guys’.
‘They were saying ‘it is going to be easy, he is going to be with his girl and he will give it up easily, he is a pussy’,’ he said. ‘I never knew what was going on, apart from putting him in the van, I never knew what was going to take place next.’
A second defendant, Ali Kavak, also said he did not know what was going on, but claimed that after Mr Alpergin was killed he was forced to become involved in the dumping of the body.
He said he did not see the corpse when he moved it from vehicle to vehicle on the way to Essex because he had his eyes shut.
Giving evidence he also told the court that another defendant – Tejean Kennedy, 33 – had made death threats against him and his family, warning him against naming him when giving evidence in court.
He said that a couple of weeks earlier he had been handed a note that he understood had been written by Kennedy.
He was asked to read the note to the court: ‘My man got Ps on you. Looks like I got to do the mad ting too.’
Asked what that meant, he said that Ps meant pounds, explaining: ‘A bounty had been put on myself’.
After almost 48 hours of deliberations Kennedy and Kavak, 26, were found guilty of the kidnap and false imprisonment of the couple and of Mr Alpergin’s manslaughter.
A police van and cordon in Loughton, Essex, where Mr Alpergin’s body was found
Samuel Owusu-Opoku, 35, was found guilty of two counts of kidnap and Gordon, 34, had admitted kidnap and 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. Junior Kettle, 32, was cleared of murder, kidnap and false imprisonment and walked free.
Erdogan Ulcay, 56, was acquitted of perverting the course of justice by assisting with the disposal of Mr Alpergin’s body or the destruction by fire of a Fiat Diablo van and Renault Megane.
Those convicted will be sentenced at a later date.
As for Ms Dalbudak, she returned to Turkey within days of her release and refused the police’s request to come and give evidence in person or by video link. She told officers that she was still undergoing therapy and had far from recovered from her ordeal.
‘For perfectly understandable reasons, you may think, she wants to put the whole thing behind her,’ Mr Aylett told the court. ‘This had been her first, and no doubt last, visit to the UK.’
A trip that began on the arm of her glamorous, new boyfriend. But which ended in the most horrific of circumstances.