Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

How defying family's wishes sealed Tulay's fate

By Anna Browning
BBC News

When Tulay Goren fell for a man twice her age and embarked on an affair, it was an action that ultimately cost the teenager her life.

Tulay Goren
Tulay's body has never been found

Ten years on, the body of 15-year-old Tulay, from Woodford Green, north London, has never been found.

Her former boyfriend, 30-year-old Halil Unal, still lives in fear for his life.

Tulay vanished in 1999 and now her own father Mehmet Goren has been found guilty of murdering her.

How she died will probably never be known. But clues as to why she was murdered emerged at the Old Bailey trial.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said Tulay died because, in the eyes of her father, the relationship with Mr Unal and the loss of her virginity - plus her "defiance" of her parents had damaged his family's reputation.

Family council

Mr Unal, from south-eastern Turkey, was smuggled into Britain with the help of "agents", one of many Kurds hoping for a better life.

Hanim Goren arriving at the Old Bailey in a car
I was saying to him, 'You swallowed Tulay'. I was saying, 'She is alive, in your tummy.'
Hanim Goren, Tulay's mother

But put simply, in the eyes of Tulay's father he was the "wrong kind" of Muslim.

Mr Unal was a Sunni from the town of Adiyaman.

But Tulay's family, from nearby Elbistan, were Alevis - a different branch of Islam whose followers in Turkey have a historically tense relationship with Sunnis, the court heard.

Tulay first met Mr Unal in 1998 when she took a summer job at the clothing factory where he worked.

When their relationship became known her family were outraged - but they suggested that if the couple married it might assuage their "honour".

However when the family arrived at a register office, Tulay was turned away for being under-age. Her father, Mehmet, told the court he offered the registrar a £500 bribe, but it was refused.

It also emerged in court that Mr Unal had been cautioned by police after admitting having sex with a 15-year-old.

He said that he had thought Tulay was 17 at the time.

Giving evidence behind a screen and through an interpreter, Mr Unal said he had waited 10 years "for this case to be talked about".

"I am very happy and at peace that I am here today. I know full well that they won't stop being after me," he said.

Kiss goodbye

Jurors heard that Tulay repeatedly spoke of her desperation to escape her unhappy home life, telling Mr Unal how she was under pressure from her father, how he "follows me all the time" and how her family, "all of them", hated him.

She was last seen on 7 January 1999, the day after she had been persuaded to return to her family home.

Once there, her father tied her up. She had been bound so tightly, her feet were black and blue.

Hanim Goren giving evidence, watched by husband Mehmet
Facing her husband, Hanim Goren said: "What did you do to Tulay?"

Later, Tulay's mother Hanim was told by her husband to take their other children away. Tulay's eight-year-old brother Tuncay was told by his father to kiss his sister goodbye.

It would be the last time he would see her, he was told.

From the witness box, Hanim told how she returned the next day to find knives and bin bags missing, how her husband had washed clothes for the first time in their married life. Part of the garden had been dug up.

Fearing for the rest of her family, she kept quiet, but after her younger daughter Hatice was killed in a car accident in 2006 she said she increasingly pestered her husband, asking him what had happened to Tulay.

"I was saying it to his face openly, frankly. I was saying to him, 'You swallowed Tulay'. I was saying, 'She is alive, in your tummy.' I kept saying it," she told the court.

Then, overcome with emotion, she turned to her husband for the first time since entering court.

Speaking in Turkish, with her words being translated into English by an interpreter, she said: "Look at my face. What did you do to Tulay?"

The judge interrupted the translation but after the jury went out the interpreter explained that she had gone on to say: "Say it so that I can bury her bones next to her sister."

'My daughter'

In the witness box, Mehmet pointed the finger at his brother Ali Goren, who along with their other brother Cuma Goren, were also accused of Tulay's murder. The jury found Ali and Cuma not guilty of killing their niece.

Mehmet claimed Ali took her away, but later told him she had tricked him and run away.

He even claimed that three months after Tulay disappeared, three men came to his home and and told him Tulay had joined the Kurdish nationalist PKK movement and was being trained as a guerrilla.

Ali said he had nothing to do with Tulay's disappearance and claimed he was very "distant" from his brother.

He said when he tried to act as peacemaker between Tulay and her father, Mehmet told him: "Tulay is my daughter, my responsibility. It is nothing to do with you. I will not send Tulay anywhere else from here."

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