Fifteen year old paid £200 to shoot woman
The country's youngest professional hit man has been convicted of murder. The judge called him 'cold-blooded'. But is the killer also a victim?
While most young people were studying for their GCSEs, 15-year-old Santre Sanchez Gayle was carrying out his first job as a professional hit man.
Recruited to carry out the killing because he had no connections with the Turkish community, the X-box loving schoolboy agreed a fee of £200 to murder Turkish-born Gulistan Subasi.
On the night of the attack, as darkness fell, he travelled across London by cab. His destination was Hackney, in the city's East End.
CCTV footage takes up the story, as a figure in white clothing, head covered by a hood, walks down the street. It's 8.22pm.
He approaches the flat where Gulistan is staying with her mother. There's a locked metal gate across the front door.
The figure then pulls out a sawn-off shotgun from his rucksack, rests it on the gate and aims at the door.
The hallway light comes on and the gunman waits. As soon as the door opens, the shotgun fires, the assassin visibly thrown back as he pulls the trigger.
Subasi is hit in the chest as she stands on the doorstep. She collapses to the ground with a chest wound bigger than a tennis ball.
Gayle is then seen running from the scene before getting into a minicab and driving away.
Police arrive at the scene to find Subasi being cradled in her mother's lap. Attempts to revive her fail and she is pronounced dead. It's 9.10pm.
The following day was her son's 7th birthday. She'd been hoping the visitor was bringing him to see her.
Known as 'Riot' on the streets of North-West London, Gayle was a member of a notorious street gang known as the Kensal Green Boys (KGB), responsible for violent robbery outside tube stations.
Police assumed the killer was a professional who would have fled the country within hours of the killing. But Gayle came into the frame when another criminal told police that he'd boasted of killing a Turkish woman.
Apparently unfazed after his arrest, Gayle told a fellow prisoner 'the evidence they have on me is circumstantial, nothing forensic. My barrister should be able to rip it open.'
Was Gayle responsible for his actions?
Detective Inspector Andy Chalmers, who led the investigation, has his doubts. 'He is not a very bright lad. He did not have good schooling or much parental control. He was easily manipulated. In many ways he himself is a victim.'
But Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire was less forgiving: 'Even though he is only 15, he knew what he was doing.'
The judge agreed, jailing him for a minimum of 20 years.
- 'It should be Gayle's parents in prison.' Do you agree?
- The judge said Gayle just wanted to impress fellow gang members. When does peer pressure become unhealthy?
- Thirty-Second Thought: What's the one thing you'd like to say to Gayle?
- 'Taking a little boy and putting him in court and punishing him rather than addressing issues around the family is transparently ludicrous,' said Martin Narey, Chief Executive of child charity Barnardo's. Are we handling teenage crime well? Research (SeeBecome an expert) and then write your conclusions under the title: 'From Playground to Prison: lessons to learn.'
Some People Say...
“Age is irrelevant when someone kills.”
What do you think?
Q & A
- It sounds like Gayle was immersed in crime.
- He was a cannabis dealer whose first conviction was at 14 for an attempted robbery. He's related to two other young men who are in jail serving life sentences for murders.
- But he didn't know this woman?
- No. Ms Subasi was estranged from Serdar Ozbek, the father of her son. She was due to get married in Turkey that summer, and had mentioned regaining custody of her son. This was said in court to have been the motive for her killing.
- What's the age of criminal responsibility?
- In the UK, it's 10. The Ministry of Justice says those over 10 know the difference 'between bad behaviour and serious wrongdoing'. But it varies round the world, from seven in Nigeria and Switzerland to 18 in Belgium, Luxembourg and some US states. There seems to be no 'right' answer.
- Sawn-off shotgun
- A shotgun with the barrel shortened. These short shotguns are easily hidden and are therefore illegal in many parts of the world, including the UK.
- Police can often place someone near a crime; but that isn't the same as proving they have done it. In this case, Gayle was identified by his taxi driver – but juries are cautious about convicting on this 'circumstantial' evidence.
- Forensic evidence
- This is any evidence that is left at the scene of the crime which links the crime to someone. Most obvious examples would be fingerprints or a strand of hair. Forensics literally means 'to do with the courts'.