Former 'mum of the year' convicted of killing her husband after she stabbed him in the heart
A former "Mum of the Year" who once won support from Simon Cowell has been convicted of manslaughter after she stabbed her husband in the heart.
Helena Karine Atay was given the local paper award after her campaign to raise half-a-million pounds - which the X-factor judge contributed up to £100,000 to - for her toddler daughter Sophie to get treatment in the US for neuroblastoma.
Tragic Sophie lost her fight for life in 2010 when she was just two, before she could start the treatment in America but a family campaign for more research into the disease was taken to Downing Street.
At Newcastle Crown Court today the grieving mum has now been cleared of the murder of her husband Atakan in a knife attack at their home, during which she stabbed him just below a tattoo which read "Sophie, my endless love", but convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of lack of intent.
Businessman Mr Atay was only able to utter the words "nine nine nine please" while struggling to breathe during a 17-minute call he made to the emergency services after the attack, which has been played in court, last October.
After the 45-year-old fell silent, his wife, who is known as Karine, could be heard telling him: "You're lying. I would never do that to you Atakan. I would never hurt you."
The 42-year-old mum also said to her dying husband "there's Sophie", "we're going to get you an ambulance. I'm really sorry. I love you so much."
Mr Atay, who had business interests in a hotel and a convenience store named after the couple's late daughter, died after receiving two stab wounds, one of which punctured his heart, at their home in Birtley, Gateshead.
His wife, who was brought up in Washington, has been tried by a jury during a five week trial.
She will be sentenced at a later date.
The court heard Atay told police after the attack her husband had "enemies" and that she had been in bed when she heard a fight downstairs that night.
She later said she had been the victim of controlling and coercive behaviour by her husband.
Atay said in a statement she had been strangled to the point where she feared she would pass out in an attack by her husband the year before.
She said on the night he was killed, Mr Atay and she had argued when she tried to leave the house for more drink, that he was "angry" and had kicked her in the leg and hurt her arm.
Atay claimed she was "terrified" her husband was "really going to hurt her".
She told jurors during the trial she stayed in the marriage as she feared her husband may take their children back to his homeland in Turkey and was worried how she would survive.
She told the court: "I was scared, scared of the children going, scared of how I would survive, I didn't know how I would survive."
Prosecutor John Elvidge QC claimed Atay "exaggerated" her husband's past behaviour and that then trouble had started that night because she wanted to go out and get alcohol.
Mr Elvidge said the accused mum could be "volatile, confrontational, aggressive and threatening" in drink and had been in trouble because of it in the past.
He said her alcohol problems date back to before the tragic death of the couple's young daughter.
Mr Elvidge told jurors: "The prosecution says that on the night of October 18 2018, as on previous occasions, her craving for alcohol led Karine Atay to seek to leave the matrimonial home.
"There was a confrontation but not a grave one until she chose to pick up a knife and use it against her unarmed husband, deliberately and unlawfully stabbing him more than once, delivering a fatal wound that penetrated into his heart and caused his death."
A spokesperson for Atakan's family said: "Words cannot express the huge loss and pain that Atakan's tragic passing has caused to our family.
"He was made a victim because of his compassion and being a good person. He always wanted to do the right thing and that has cost him his life.
"We are all going to carry the pain of that knife in our hearts all through our lives. Every knife we see will remind us of the pain it gave to his beautiful heart.
"Atakan and his family have been obliterated by a cruel person in a split second. He fought all of his life to keep the family together but now England is a grave for all of us.
"He was the apple of our family, a gentleman, a doting father and a beloved brother. We feel ashamed of every breath we take knowing that he is not here.
"Karine, we don't know how you will be able to live with yourself when we are struggling to get through our own lives with such pain.
"We can never forgive you for the damage you have done to this family. Our hearts have been broken forever.
"We want to thank the prosecution team. In particular we want to thank everyone at Northumbria Police who worked on the case and the prosecution counsel, Mr Elvidge QC."