Turkish gangster plotted to kill rivals in encrypted phone chat, UK court hears

Detectives uncovered reported plot after planting listening device inside home of accused

A Turkish gangster known as “Fingers” plotted to kill criminal rivals in the UK in a series of planned operations so extraordinary they sounded like movie scripts, a London court has heard.

Five men are accused of having roles in the reported plot to kill three rivals of Kemal Eren, who earned his nickname because he lost some of his fingers before he fled from the UK to Turkey, a jury was told.

London’s central criminal court heard that the proposed murders, which were planned using encrypted telephones, were uncovered after police placed a secret listening device inside the home of one of the accused.

Warwick Burrows, 48, Leon Smith, 40, Matthew Watson, 33, Dario Barnaby, 29, and Courtney Reid, 38, are facing charges following an investigation into the covert messaging platform Encrochat, which revealed the reported murder plots planned in 2019.

Mr Eren is not on trial.

Prosecutor Benn Maguire said the accused “wanted to kill their rivals and competitors in the criminal underworld”.

They used the Encrochat system to encrypt their messages in the hope of stopping police from realising what they were doing, he said.

But the listening device placed in the home of Mr Smith meant law enforcement agents were able to follow their coded conversations.

“These were classic contract killings and there are parts of this that sound so extraordinary, it sounds like a film script,” said Mr Maguire.

Police later recovered two handguns from a taxi and a second car that were said to be linked to some of the accused.

All five men have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and the case is ongoing.

Updated: November 4th 2021, 4:20 PM