Belfast Telegraph

Idyllic holiday romance led to horror in a remote wood

BY JOANNE SWEENEY

Shannon Graham was only 11 when she met the man who would eventually murder her mother and her friend in a frenzied stabbing attack.

Little did she know that her first real relationship would turn into a nightmare.

In those early years the Newry youngster must have thought that life couldn't get any better for her.

She was young and pretty and fortunate to be holidaying in Turkey with her mother Marion and her friend Cathy Dinsmore for the past four summers while her schoolmates remained at home.

She had her mum, whom she called "her best friend", by her side as they enjoyed their "second life" in Turkey.

At last she was finally allowed to date handsome waiter Recep Cetin, or Alex as he was known to them, who had flirted with her over those happy holidays.

They both had patiently bided their time to be considered a couple as her mother had wisely forbidden Shannon to date Cetin until she was older.

By the summer of 2011 they had already been boyfriend and girlfriend for a year, perhaps keeping in touch through texts and Facebook.

She probably told her friends that she couldn't wait to get back to Turkey, knowing that Cetin was waiting for her.

But this was no Romeo and Juliet story.

It was a holiday romance already based on deception as Cetin had told Shannon that he was much younger than he was.

And despite media reports that Cetin had asked Shannon to marry him – suggesting that it was his fear of her mother's disapproval which sparked the murders – she later denied this.

But such was the relationship that Cetin and Shannon and her mother had built up over the summers, it's understood that he was staying in the same apartment in Kusadasi with Shannon, Marion and her lifelong friend Cathy, from Warrenpoint.

Just a few weeks into the holiday Cetin had offered to take Marion and Cathy to Izmir on a shopping trip 70 kilometres away while Shannon enjoyed a boat trip with friends.

For reasons that are still not fully understood by either of the dead women's families, Cetin brought the pair to a forest where he then stabbed his girlfriend's mother 17 times and her friend 35 times in a frenzied attack.

He then concocted a story that he had tried to defend the women from kidnappers belonging to the Turkish mafia.

Shannon even helped Cetin to change out of the clothes he had been wearing during the attack and accompanied him to the police station to report the story.

The next day she learnt that her mother and her friend had been brutally murdered.

Her romance was over, but a living nightmare was just beginning.

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