A SOCIAL club manager subjected his business partner to a "ferocious" knife attack in a row over unpaid bills, a court has heard.
Husamettin Selimoglu, 53, hit Dr Remzi Tanriverdi with a blunt butcher's knife using such force that he shattered his skull and almost cleaved one of his hands in half, a jury at Croydon Crown Court was told.
The former fish and chip shop worker denies attempting to murder Dr Tanriverdi, then 42, at the Anatolian Community Social and Cultural Centre, in London Road, West Croydon, on December 29, 2007.
The case has only now come to court because Selimoglu, who fled the country after the attack, was tracked down in the Netherlands six years later and extradited to the UK, jurors were told.
Paul Cavin, prosecuting, told the court Dr Tanriverdi was the leaseholder for the Kurdish social club and Selimoglu was the manager.
Dr Tanriverdi, he explained, left day-to-day operations to his partner so he could concentrate on his business interests in Hastings, where he owns a kebab shop.
Their relationship deteriorated when Dr Tanriverdi realised bills were not being paid on time. Despite mediation, the problems continued. By Christmas 2007, Dr Tanriverdi was running the club hands on, the court was told.
"He felt, rightly or wrongly, that Selimoglu wasn't running the business properly," said Mr Cavin.
"The defendant, rightly or wrongly, had come to think of the business as his."
Mr Cavin said the men had met on December 28 and Selimoglu had agreed to pay some of the most pressing bills but, when Dr Tanriverdi returned to the social club the following day, the payments had not been made.
The pair argued and Dr Tanriverdi told his partner he had no choice but to close the club. "The defendant became furious," said Mr Cavin.
It was at this point Dr Tanriverdi felt a blow to the back of his head, the court heard.
Mr Cavin explained: "He told police that as he turned he saw the defendant standing above him holding what he described as a butcher's knife.
"He held out his hand to deflect further blows, which caused the wounds to his hands. The defendant then ran out of the room.
"Dr Tanriverdi crawled out of the front door and onto the pavement. He left a blood splattered trail across the floor."
A hairdresser working in the barber's shop attached to the social club rushed to help, applying towels to stem the bleeding.
Mr Cavin said: "He described looking into one of the wounds, seeing Dr Tanriverdi's brain and pushing a large flap of skin back into place.
"His left hand was almost cleaved in half across the palm. Two of his fingers were almost amputated.
"On his right hand there was a deep slashing into the flesh. There was also a cleaving injury to his knee cap."
The air ambulance arrived and Dr Tanriverdi was taken to King's College Hospital, in Denmark Hill, having suffered numerous injuries, including a brain haemorrhage. He remained in hospital for a month.
Mr Cavin said: "If it weren't for the prompt medical attention of the air ambulance and doctors at the hospital he may not have survived."
He added that the injuries to Dr Tanriverdi's hands were "classic defence wounds".
"He got his hands in the way of this ferocious attack," he told jurors. "Had he not he would have suffered further severe wounds to his head and other parts of his body."
The court head that Selimoglu was filmed on the social club's external CCTV cameras fleeing the building at 3.32pm.
Mr Cavin said: "The defendant wasn't seen again for several years. That is because he left the country.
"He was eventually tracked down to the Netherlands and, as a result of a European Arrest Warrant, he was extradited back to the UK in January 2014."
Mr Cavin said the jury would hear from Dr Simon Poole, a Home Office pathologist who had determined that whoever attacked Dr Tanriverdi had used "severe" force – the highest level.
"You will have to consider what that level of force says about the defendant's intentions," he added.
Dr Poole's analysis of the injuries also led him to the conclusion that Dr Tanriverdi must have been attacked from behind, the court heard.
Mr Cavin added: "Why is this significant? Could this be self-defence? Not if the blows start from behind."
'I shouted enough, enough. But he didn't stop'
Speaking through an interpreter, Dr Tanriverdi said Selimoglu was already working at the club when he took over in 2005.
He said his partner's mismanagement of the social club's funds had led to several visits from bailiffs.
Dr Tanriverdi tried to sack Selimoglu on several occasions, most recently a month before the attack, but each time he begged for his job back, he told the jury.
He said they had argued about bills at the club on the afternoon of December 29 when, as he sat at a table at around 3.30pm, Selimoglu had brought him and another man a cup of tea and then walked off behind him.
"All of a sudden I felt something hit my head," Dr Tanriverdi told the court. "I thought the building was falling down."
Dr Tanriverdi said he stood up and looked behind him and saw Selimoglu holding what appeared to be a large knife, similar to one used in a kebab shop, wrapped in newspaper. He told the court he held out his hand to protect himself as his attacker rained blow after blow.
"He was incessantly hitting me," he said.
Dr Tanriverdi fell to the floor and the attack continued, jurors were told. As he lifted his leg to protect himself he was hit with such force it nearly cleaved his knee cap off.
"I shouted 'enough, enough'. But he didn't stop," said Dr Tanriverdi.
Cathy Ryan, defending, questioned Dr Tanriverdi's description of their business relationship. She said he had agreed to put Selimoglu's name on the lease in order to help him with his application for an EU passport. In exchange he would be paid £30,000 in instalments. Ms Ryan added: "You cheated him because you did not put his name on the lease."
Dr Tanriverdi admitted they had reached that agreement but said he had not changed the registration details because he did not trust his partner to pay.
Ms Ryan also accused Dr Tanriverdi of "extorting" money from Selimoglu and said that, when her client did not pay up, he claimed he had a gun and threatened to kill him. "No chance," replied Dr Tanriverdi.
Asked whether he had extorted money from the defendant, Dr Tanriverdi replied: "If you can find anyone from the 400 to 500 Turkish people in the community who says that is true, I will admit it. No I did not."
Mr Ryan told the court Dr Tanriverdi had tried to strangle her client with a belt in August 2007.
Dr Tanriverdi responded: "I have never attacked anyone in my life."
The trial continues.