Scottish gangster faces life in jail after being convicted of assassinating Dutch crime blogger

Scottish gangster faces life in jail after being convicted of assassinating Dutch crime blogger 2
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A Scottish gangster is facing life in jail after being convicted of assassinating a Dutch crime blogger who was shot eight times outside a sex club.

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Martin Kok, 49, was blasted by a gunman in the town of Laren, The Netherlands, on December 8, 2016. 

He was lured to his death by Christopher Hughes – a member of a crime clan with worldwide connections including with Colombian drug cartels and the Italian mafia. 

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The 33-year-old was instructed to meet Kok at an Amsterdam hotel before going to a sex club and alerting others to his location.

As the pair later left – and Hughes patted a cat outside – double murderer Kok was shot as a ‘favour’ for Moroccan-based gangsters.

Hughes now faces a life sentence after being convicted at the High Court in Glasgow of the murder and involvement in serious organised crime between July 2013 and January 2020.

Christopher Hughes lured Martin Kok (pictured), 49, to his death before he was blasted by a gunman in the town of Laren, The Netherlands, on December 8, 2016

Christopher Hughes lured Martin Kok (pictured), 49, to his death before he was blasted by a gunman in the town of Laren, The Netherlands, on December 8, 2016

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Mourners at Kok's funeral in December 2016, where they had to walk through metal detection gates amid fears of gangland recriminations

Mourners at Kok’s funeral in December 2016, where they had to walk through metal detection gates amid fears of gangland recriminations

Hughes was quizzed by Dutch police the day after the shooting before being allowed to leave.

He remained at large in Europe as the international probe into the brothel shooting continued.

It was his apparent confession to a fellow gang member turned informer which led to his downfall.

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Hughes was caught at a hotel in Turin in Italy in January 2020 and hauled back to Scotland on a European Arrest Warrant. 

The killing – despite happening abroad – was investigated as part of the huge Police Scotland probe Operation Escalade, which has already seen a string of gang members jailed for a total of more than 100 years.

The mob has been described as the ‘most sophisticated’ encountered by the authorities.

They are said to be at the ‘top of the chain’ for drug trafficking in the UK while also having an ‘unprecedented’ arsenal of firearms at their disposal.

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The clan’s reach was such they forged links with international mobsters.

They also mingled at showbiz parties across the globe with famous names including rappers 50 Cent and Nicki Minaj on a luxury yacht to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hughes was a trusted member of the mob with jurors shown a photo of him smiling with the two crime lords heading the crew. 

They cannot be identified for legal reasons.

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He was listed by HMRC as seemingly ‘unemployed’ – but £40,000-a-week ‘wages’ earned him a luxury lifestyle in The Algarve.

The informer explained to jurors in evidence that he was told to set a meeting up in an Amsterdam hotel between Hughes and Kok.

Kok – a convicted murderer himself – was latterly a crime writer who had set up a website exposing criminals in his homeland.

Hughes (pictured above), 33, now faces a life sentence after being convicted at the High Court in Glasgow of the murder and involvement in serious organised crime between July 2013 and January 2020

Hughes (pictured above), 33, now faces a life sentence after being convicted at the High Court in Glasgow of the murder and involvement in serious organised crime between July 2013 and January 2020

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The informer told jurors he believed the meeting was to discuss advertising for the firm’s encrypted phone company MPC – funded with £1m of dirty money – on Kok’s new crime TV show.

The killing was originally due to happen outside the Citizen M Hotel in Amsterdam.

But, Hughes, originally from Glasgow, later told the informer that the gun had ‘jammed’ during a ‘play by play’ of events at his flat in Antwerp 11 months later.

The murder then did happen later that night as Hughes paid for Kok’s evening at the sex club and supplied him with cocaine.

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The supergrass stated that he was speaking to his crime boss on the night of the incident.

The informer said: ‘He [The boss] had been on about someone waiting for Martin Kok and Christopher Hughes was to hold back.

‘Martin left just ahead of Chris and he made a comment about a cat appearing at the club and that he stepped back to pet it.’

Prosecutor Liam Ewing QC asked what the significance of petting the cat was.

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The witness replied: ‘Martin was going to his car first so there was no mistake of anyone being caught in the crossfire.’

Jurors watched CCTV of Hughes moments after the shooting walking away from the scene texting on a mobile phone.

Mr Ewing also asked the informer if Hughes understood something was to happen to Kok that night.

Kok (above) - a convicted murderer himself - was latterly a crime writer who had set up a website exposing criminals in his homeland

Kok (above) – a convicted murderer himself – was latterly a crime writer who had set up a website exposing criminals in his homeland

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He replied: ‘I remember a comment being made about putting him [Kok] on a plate for the Roccies.’

The witness claimed he had a meeting with his boss a month after the murder.

He said: ‘I was told it was an arrangement because the lad had access to Martin with a group called the Roccies, a Moroccan crime group, who are all over but more prominent in Amsterdam.’

Hughes’ boss then organised for him to be picked up as he hid in bushes while mercy crews arrived at the scene.

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Hughes told police the next day that he was involved in ‘tech support’ with the phone company – which was funded by £1m in dirty money – but did not want to give names of who was involved.

He further stated that he binned his encrypted phone as it had smashed and got rid of his clothes.

Jurors also heard that Hughes was spied by police in industrial units in Cambuslang and East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire as well as Chapelhall, North Lanarkshire.

Mr Ewing told the jury in his closing speech: ‘Recovered from a machine inside one of the lock up garages was £700,000. 

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‘The landlord said that it cost them £13,000 in cash for its use.

‘There was anti-surveilance equipment valued at £40,000 which can only be found in the hands of government organisations but this group have it in a lock up in Chapelhall.’

Hughes shook his head after he was convicted and was heard saying ‘f*** off’ when Mr Ewing applied for a serious crime prevention order.

Sentence was deferred pending background reports until next month by judge Lady Scott who continued Hughes’ remand in custody meantime.

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