Murder in Turkey: Looking a bit lost, Shannon wiped away a tear waiting for her luggage
Published 23/08/2011 | 17:00
The heartbroken daughter of Turkey murder victim Marion Graham has returned home to Northern Ireland.
Fifteen-year-old Shannon Graham flew into Belfast International Airport yesterday accompanied by her father Raymond McGuinness and brother David.
The grief-stricken party had travelled from Turkey to London Heathrow and finally touched down at Belfast just before 5pm.
"It has been a very long and arduous day for all of us," Mr McGuinness told the Belfast Telegraph at the airport. "It has been very difficult and was a difficult journey.
"As for Shannon, it hasn't really hit her yet. Her mum was her best friend, not just her mum. They went everywhere together."
Ms Graham and her best friend Kathy Dinsmore, both 53 and from Newry, were stabbed to death and buried in woods outside the Turkish holiday resort of Kusadasi.
Their bodies were discovered last Friday after Shannon's boyfriend, Recep Cetin, a local waiter, confessed to knifing them in a frenzied attack following a dispute over a marriage proposal.
Mr McGuinness, who was reunited with his daughter at the morgue in the Turkish city of Izmir, added: "It hasn't hit her at all. She was on the boat trip when it happened and she believed him when he said about her mum being kidnapped, and even went to the hospital with him to see about the cut on his hand."
Still dressed in lightweight holiday clothing - a black and white jumpsuit with her hair tied into a high bun and accessorised with a gold hair band - Shannon seemed distant, anxious and at times looked a little lost.
At one stage she appeared to wipe tears from her face while waiting for the luggage carousel to start. Mr McGuinness, an oil distributor who has a Turkish business partner, was on the phone finalising arrangements to have the bodies of both women repatriated.
Yesterday Turkish news reported that all the necessary paperwork had been completed and a private company had been hired to collect the remains from the mortuary in Izmir.
Last night Mr McGuinness confirmed the women's bodies had been transferred some 350 miles to Antalya on Turkey's south coast from where they will be flown back to Northern Ireland.
Mr McGuinness said that he was hoping the women could be returned home to Northern Ireland "very soon". "I identified the bodies which, as you can imagine, wasn't nice at all," he said. "Shannon really wanted to see her mum, but we couldn't allow her. It would have been too much. Maybe when we get her home she might be able to see her mother. It's just so hard."
A spokeswoman for the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said repatriation would depend on circumstances, including flight availability.
"We won't know about funerals until we get the bodies back," concluded Mr McGuinness.
Cetin, who called himself 'Alex', had been in a relationship with Shannon since last year. It is understood he wanted to marry the teenager and became incensed when her mother refused to give her blessing.
It is alleged that, after luring the women into a forest, he slashed their throats and hid their bodies. It is also claimed he then fabricated a story that the two women had been kidnapped in a bid to explain an injury to his hand.
On Friday he appeared in court in Izmir. However, there is confusion over Cetin's age. Police sources in Turkey believe he is older that his claim of 17 which, if true, could have major implications on a potential punishment.
Prayers for the victims were said in churches both in Turkey and in Northern Ireland yesterday. Books of condolence were opened in Newry and Warrenpoint.
Ms Graham was a regular visitor to Turkey. She had married Turkish waiter Yucel Kilinc five years ago, but the pair had since separated.
At the time of her death Ms Graham and her daughter were staying in an apartment owned by her ex-partner Mr McGuinness.
They had been in Kusadasi for most of the summer.