On April 12 last year, in the early hours, Hyacinth Carty received a call on her mobile phone. It was the police, and it was about her son.
He was in trouble. Serious trouble. A young woman had been shot dead–executed–on a doorstep in Hackney, East London.
The hooded assassin had been captured on CCTV pulling a sawn-off shotgun from his rucksack before ringing the doorbell and opening fire at point-blank range.
The assassin, detectives believed, was Hyacinth’s 15-year-old son, Santre Sanchez Gayle (the surname he takes from his estranged father).
According to their inquiries, he had carried out the ‘hit’ for £200–money he would later use to buy a Dolce & Gabbana beanie hat.
Hyacinth Carty was informed that Santre had been arrested on suspicion of murder. They asked her to come to the police station where the teenager was about to be interviewed under caution. Children under 16 cannot be interviewed without an ‘appropriate adult’ being present.
Hyacinth refused to go. She said she was too ‘tired’. That was the precise word she used, a senior officer involved in the investigation told the Mail–a response that was almost as shocking, in its own way, as the crime itself.
When she did eventually contact the police again, it was to complain that her front door had been kicked down when armed officers arrested her son. (Hyacinth had been at another address when they came for him.)
For the truth is, Carty was a mother only in a biological sense. Had she been anything more than that, then maybe, just maybe, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Santre Sanchez Gayle is now serving 20 years following his conviction for murder at the Old Bailey last month. He is believed to be Britain’s youngest contract killer.
That’s only part of the story, though. For in 2004, Gayle’s half-brother Lloywen Carty–Hyacinth Carty’s eldest son from a previous relationship–also stood in the dock at the Old Bailey, as he was convicted of gunning down a reveller at the Notting Hill Carnival.
Carty was 23 at the time. The reason his victim had to die? He was perceived to have ‘disrespected him’.
One mother. Two sons who became killers. But it doesn’t end there: a cousin of Carty and Gayle, Donnel Carty, is also a convicted murderer.
Santre Gayle’s family–who are of Jamaican descent–live in Kensal Green in the London Borough of Brent. To the south, Kensington and Chelsea, to the east, Westminster. But Gayle and his sociopathic peers existed in a parallel universe where the saying ‘life is cheap’ is more than just a turn of phrase.
We encountered a chilling illustration of this outside the terrace house of the accomplice who recruited Gayle to kill a young mother for cash.
Emerging from the front door was a man in his mid-20s with a tattoo of two teardrops on his neck. In this nihilistic sub-culture, a teardrop tattoo often signifies that the bearer has killed or spent time in prison. The ‘tears’ are a sick representation of the grief of a victim’s loved ones.
This was the kind of individual Gayle looked up to; the people whose ‘respect’ he craved.
So after her elder son was jailed for the Notting Hill killing, did Hyacinth Carty do anything–anything at all–to try to stop history repeating itself, to prevent one son becoming a murderous clone of the other? It seems not.
At the time that Santre Gayle carried out his £200 ‘hit’, he was virtually living alone at a flat in Kensal Green. His mother is on the electoral roll, but she was rarely there, even though she doesn’t work (she is understood to be claiming incapacity benefits because of a problem with her legs).
For most of the time, Gayle was left to fend for himself. He never had clean clothes and didn’t always wash, say neighbours. The flat itself was ‘a pigsty’, with rubbish everywhere. Even belongings were kept in black bin bags.
The flat had also become a ‘doss house’ for gang members. The void left by Gayle’s feckless mother had been filled by a very different kind of family. Gayle was a ‘younger’ in the Kensal Green Blood gang (KGB), a group of red bandana-wearing thugs known as the ‘Bloods’. They superseded another gang, the Mus Luv Crew (MLC).
Gayle’s street name was ‘Riot’–a soubriquet he more than lived up to even before his arrest for murder. By then, he had already been kicked out of school and had convictions for attempted robbery and a public order offence.
Police say he was also dealing in hard drugs from his home. On his MySpace page, Gayle is pictured masked and waving a wad of £50 notes–presumably, the proceeds from drugs.
One drawing posted on the page is called ‘irob’ and depicts a mugging, while another is captioned ‘Click Click Bang’.
There is also a video of a gang (probably the ‘Bloods’) carrying out a mugging. The young victim is filmed being knocked to the ground with a flurry of punches, while his attackers cheer and chant the name of ‘Mike Tyson’.
The ‘Bloods’ are, in fact, one of the most infamous gangs in London. At the height of their notoriety five years ago, they targeted the Underground, producing a ‘good mugging’ guide for their members–all youngsters from broken homes on estates in North-West London–to terrorise passengers.
The guide is based on the Tube map. Prime mugging spots were marked ‘good eating’, and places where commuters had resisted them were ‘beefs’. Stations with a heavy police presence were identified as ‘hot’.
Notting Hill, for example, was described as ‘good eating but a bit hot’.
Police believe the ‘Bloods’ carried out around 200 attacks, including stabbings, robberies and assaults.
At least three murders have been attributed to the gang and the Mus Luv Crew.
The first was at the Notting Hill carnival seven years ago. The killer with the MAC-10 machine pistol was Lloywen Carty, Hyacinth Carty’s eldest son. The victim was rival gang member Lee Subaran.
The second was in 2006. The victim this time was Tom ap Rhys Pryce, 31, a City lawyer, who was stabbed on his short walk home from the Tube in Kensal Green. The killer was 19-year-old Donnel Carty, a cousin of Santre Gayle and Lloywen Carty.
The third murder, of course, is the focus of this story. And all of them are connected through family ties to Hyacinth Carty.
So how did Gayle come to execute a young mother in cold blood? A woman, incidentally, whom he had never met before.
His victim was 26-year-old Turkish-born Gulistan Subasi. The man who signed her death warrant, it was alleged in court, was her former partner, 28-year-old Serdar Ozbek.
He was acquitted at the Old Bailey, which heard evidence that he had ordered the contract killing to stop Gulistan gaining custody of their six-year-old son so as not to ‘lose face’.
When Gulistan’s relationship with Ozbek soured, she returned to Turkey. In her absence, care of her son was shared jointly by her mother and Ozbek’s family. But on March 20, 2010, Ozbek discovered that Gulistan was back in London and hoping to see her son on his seventh birthday.
At 8.30pm on March 22, the night before the boy’s birthday, Gulistan lay dying on her mother’s doorstep in Hackney.
Santre Sanchez Gayle had been the final link, the jury was told, in a complex chain designed to distance those responsible for Gulistan’s murder from the actual gunman.
But the role of Gayle has exposed what police believe to be a pattern of Turkish gangs using young black men to carry out their hits.
Gayle was the fourth to be used in this way, according to police sources.
The middleman in the Gulistan case was 22-year-old Izak Billy, a senior figure in the Kensal Green Blood gang. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation he serve at least 22 years for his part in Gulistan’s murder.
Izak Billy lived just around the corner from 15-year-old Gayle. The boy must have been putty in his hands. The youngster was easily manipulated and would have done anything to gain ‘respect’ from older gang members.
As Gayle says on his MySpace page: ‘Ma Frendz R Ma Family.’ By that, he meant ‘Frendz’ like Izak Billy. And as we’ve seen, he didn’t have any other family; not really.
Billy had apparently agreed to pay Gayle £2,000 for carrying out the contract on Miss Subasi’s life. He double-crossed him and handed over just £200. A source close to the case said Santre Sanchez Gayle was just ‘expendable cannon-fodder’.
Even so, he might have got away with it if he hadn’t made one fatal mistake: he boasted of the hit to a friend, 19-year-old Tyan Hatunga.
Izak Billy found out and, furious that the gang’s secrets were being talked about, turned up at Hatunga’s house with two other thugs.
‘Come outside or I will go in and kill you. I will shoot up your house,’ he roared.
Terrified for his life, Hatunga decided to go to the police and confess what he knew about the hit. He is now in hiding.
Throughout his trial for murder, Gayle showed no remorse.
In fact, he remained convinced there was not enough evidence to convict him. In the cell where he was being held before his trial, police found a note he had written. It read: ‘The evidence they have on me is circumstantial, nothing forensic.
‘They only have (Tyan Hatunga’s) statement and cell (phone) showing me in the general area. They have got CCTV at the scene but you can’t see anyone’s face. They are trying to say I went the night before to scope (survey) the place, and went back myself on night.’
Gayle subsequently told the jury: ‘I am saying they ain’t got anything on me that can prove I did it.’
He was wrong. He didn’t count on the jury believing the testimony of his best friend.
It would be difficult to imagine a more cold-blooded, merciless crime than what happened on the doorstep in Hackney in March last year.
If there is one thing to say in Santre Sanchez Gayle’s defence, it’s that he was only 15; still a boy, at least on paper. And many others, including the mother who abandoned him to a life of crime, must also bear some responsibility for the death of Gulistan Subasi.
So was she there at the Old Bailey to witness her 15-year-old boy being sentenced for murder?
No. Hyacinth Carty did not bother to attend even a single day of her son’s month-long trial.