'Honour killing' father collapses in court

Wife of man accused of murdering daughter takes witness stand

A father accused of murdering his 15-year-old daughter in a so-called "honour killing" collapsed in court yesterday as his wife began giving evidence against him.

Mehmet Goren is alleged to have killed his daughter, Tulay, after consulting his two brothers. The three men are said to have objected after the girl fell in love with a man twice her age, 30-year-old Halil Unal.

Tulay disappeared in 1999 and is presumed murdered, although her body has never been found. The Old Bailey jury heard that police were only able to bring a prosecution when the girl's mother, Hanim Goren, finally agreed to give evidence against her husband.

Yesterday, she took to the witness stand, but her testimony was stopped when her husband collapsed in the dock. Jurors were ushered out of the court as staff called for first aid.

Before the incident, Mrs Goren, 45, had started to tell the jury about her family, explaining that she and her husband had three daughters – one of whom died aged 20 in a car accident in 2006 – and one son. Mrs Goren said her husband worked in a fish and chip shop, and that the family was also receiving benefits. She added that he used to gamble and that his brothers helped out financially.

The court heard that Tulay went to work in the factory where her mother was employed during her school holidays, where she met Mr Unal. "She wanted to buy some clothes for herself," Mrs Goren said.

After two or three days she was on the way back from work with her daughter when Tulay told her that Mr Unal, who was then 30, had "asked to be friends". "I said 'no, that is not possible, it can't happen'", the girl's mother told the jury.

She said she confronted Mr Unal and told him: "How can you do this? My daughter is only 15." When she was asked if there was any other reason, disregarding Tulay's age, that the pair should not have a relationship, she referred to where they came from in Turkey and the different branches of Islam they followed.

She said: "Apart from age, I was very, very against it because he was a stranger. He was from a different town. I was very, very against it. We are from Turkey but we come from different towns. I was against him. I was very angry. To be frank, we are Alevi and they are Sunni."

Shortly afterwards, her evidence was interrupted by her husband falling ill. But the jury has already heard that Mrs Goren will talk about her husband's actions both on the day of her daughter's disappearance and the days immediately following.

Mrs Goren will explain how she noticed scratches and a wound on her husband's hands. She also noticed that two knives were missing from the kitchen, as well as a roll of black bin liners. She will also say her husband washed the shirt he had been wearing the day their daughter disappeared, despite never previously washing a piece of clothing in the entire course of the couple's marriage.

Mrs Goren will also tell the jury that the morning after her daughter's disappearance, she noticed that the back garden had been dug up – something her husband had never done before as he did not even own gardening tools.

The prosecution contend that Tulay's body was buried in the back garden of her home in Woodford Green, north London, and was later moved. It is also alleged that the three men planned to kill Mr Unal, now 42, but that he was warned of the plot by his girlfriend a few hours before she died.

Mehmet Goren, 49, of Woodford Green, Cuma Goren, 42, and Ali Goren, 55, both of Walthamstow, east London, deny murdering Tulay on 7 January 1999. They also deny conspiracy to murder Mr Unal between May 1998 and February 1999.

The trial continues.