Poker’s Most Shocking Murders2 years ago
Having looked at the worst of the worst among the poker fraternity in our poker murderers article, we’re going to switch attention to the sad and horrific cases in which well-known poker players have been on the receiving end of deadly attacks…
Warning: Some readers may find the following article and videoclips upsetting
Mehmet Hassan was a professional gambler and poker player, described as “the original lovable rogue” who was “born with a pack of cards in his hand” – but in 2014 his life was ended in a honeytrap sting which would see him brutally murdered in his London apartment.
The 56-year old divorced father of three was a regular at the Playboy Casino on Old Park Lane and the Palm Beach Casino in Berkeley Street, two of the best-known casinos in London, and it was from the latter that he headed home in March 2014, £3000 richer from a successful night at the poker tables.
With him was the woman who would later be jailed for 16 years for his death, then 25-year old Leonie Granger whom Hassan knew as ‘Rachel’, found guilty of manslaughter after setting Hassan up to be robbed and killed by her two accomplices.
Hassan, who original Hendon Mob poker pro Ross Boatman described as “a wonderful, warm man – the original lovable rogue” who would “gamble on anything”, regularly kept up to £20,000 in cash stashed around his Islington flat – a fact known to Granger.
On the fateful night, once Mehmet Hassan had returned with Granger to his flat, unbeknownst to the poker player she let her boyfriend Kyrron Jackson and his accomplice Nicholas Chandler into the apartment.
After binding Hassan up with duct tape, the two men brutally kicked and punched him to death before ransacking his home – a video found later on Granger’s phone showing her and the two murderers “laughing and throwing wads of £50 notes around”.
Warning: Some viewers may find the following video upsetting:
Fellow gambler and poker author Andrew Perendes, said of his lifelong friend Mehmet:
“Mem was born with a pack of cards in his hand, a gambler since the age of 11. We’ve known each other since we were 8, never worked, just gambled. He had no enemies, I’m really devastated.”
The banner headline read ‘Poker. Luxury condominiums. Hit men and murder. William Gustafik’s life and death read like a made-for-TV movie’, shortly after the news broke that police had arrested his wife, Jill Rockcastle, who would later be jailed for life for the premeditated murder of her poker pro husband.
Gustafik was a former California chiropractor who became a Las Vegas poker pro under the moniker "The Manipulator", who had won $165,597 in just over 12 months between 2005 and 2006 and appeared on the Cash Game Ultimate Gamble TV show alongside poker notables such as Brandon Adams, Ralph Perry and Chad Brown…
The poker player’s high-rolling life in Vegas was ended violently and unexpectedly in April 2007, however, when he was found stabbed to death in his condo in the Panorama Towers, with more than a dozen knife wounds on his body. The Panorama Towers, ironically in this case located in Paradise, Nevada, was home to celebrities such as Pamela Anderson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.
The chief suspect in the case, his wife Jill Rockcastle, was found 3 days later in California – having overdosed in an unsuccessful suicide bid. Rockcastle would claim in court that her husband had been physically abusing her over the years and had also threatened to kill her, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal’s David Kihara, who covered the shocking murder trial.
Deputy District Attorney Sam Bateman, however, disputed Rockcastle’s claims, stating:
“Dead men tell no tales - I can’t bring the victim in on this case to give his side of the story.”
Rockcastle herself claimed: “I love my husband. I’m not a violent person,” stating that she had “just lost control” on the night of Gustafik’s killing, her Deputy Public Defender Joe Abood claiming she had grabbed a knife he was using at the time to open pornographic DVD’s.
She also claimed in her 10-page failed suicide note that Gustafik told her he had hired a hit man to kill his ex-wife and her mother, but despite this and other claims, the court sentenced Rockcastle to life in prison for Gustafik’s fatal stabbing, the murderer ‘eligible for parole after 10 years as a result of a plea to a second-degree murder charge’.
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