Woman who once won support from Simon Cowell jailed for 14 years for stabbing husband to death

A woman who once won support for a fundraising campaign from Simon Cowell has been jailed for 14 years after stabbing her husband in the heart.

By Kristy Dawson
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 17:56
Atakan Atay

Helen Karine Atay was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of lack of intent after stabbing her 45-year-old husband Atakan with a knife.

The 42-year-old was previously given an award after her campaign to raise half-a-million pounds for her toddler daughter Sophie, who has since died, for treatment in the US for neuroblastoma.

Atakan Atay

X-Factor Judge Simon Cowell contributed up to £100,000 to the fund.

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.

Newcastle Crown Court heard, during a five week trial, how Atay, who is known as Karine, stabbed Atakan just below a tattoo which read "Sophie, my endless love".

Businessman Atakan was only able to utter the words "nine nine nine please" while struggling to breath during a 17-minute call he made to the emergency services after the attack.

Helen Karine Atay

After Atakan fell silent, his wife could be heard telling him, "you're lying. I would never do that to you Atakan. I would never hurt you".

Atay also said to her dying husband, "there's Sophie", and, "I'm going to get you an ambulance. I'm really sorry. I love you so much."

Atakan, 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.

John Elvidge QC, prosecuting, told the court during the trial how Atay's alcohol problems dated back to before the tragic death of the couple's young daughter.

He said she could be "volatile, confrontational, aggressive and threatening" in drink and had been in trouble because of it in the past.

Mr Elvidge said Atay's craving for alcohol led her to seek to leave the matrimonial home on October 18 last year.

He told the court: "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."

In a victim impact statement read to the court by Mr Elvidge, during Atay's sentencing hearing this afternoon, Atakan's mother said: "My heart can't stand this pain any longer.

"I hope you, Karine, will spend your days in pain while in prison. This is how I feel."

In another victim impact statement read to the court my Mr Elvidge, Atakan's sister said: "It's impossible to describe the pain, our lives will never be the same again without him.

"Our mother has become a zombie. We are all going to carry the pain of that knife in our hearts."

After the attack, Atay told police that her husband had "enemies" and that she had been in bed when she heard a fight downstairs that night.

Atay, who was brought up in Washington, later said she had been the victim of controlling and coercive behaviour by her husband.

In video footage, recorded on a police body camera after the attack, Atay can be heard telling a police officer: "But he has got enemies."

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When the officer asks what she means by that, Atay responds: "Just... not enemies...and they wouldn't do that. Just, I don't know, business people.

"Business partners, partners that have gone."

When the officer asks "so there's been fall outs over business?", Atay replies "yeah that's it".

After Atakan has died, Atay is told that she is going to be arrested on suspicion of murder.

She responds to the officer by saying: "Oh really, he's not okay?"

While sitting on her bed in handcuffs, Atay tells the officer: "It should (sic) be nice to be you, you've no problems."

She then goes on to say: "Look, an argument that got out of control."

When the officer asks, "Is that what happens?", she responds, "I'm not going to tell you."

During her trial, Atay told jurors that she was "terrified" her husband was "really going to hurt her".

She said on the night he was killed, Atakan 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 told the court that 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.

The Recorder of Newcastle, Judge Paul Sloan QC, dismissed Atay's claims that Atakan was violent.

He told the court: "Atakan Atay, who undoubtedly loved you right to the end, did all he was capable of to help and support you, constantly trying to prevent you from drinking, paying for you to receive private treatment, taking you to and from rehabilitation treatment programmes, but you would not be helped.

"The whole situation would have been diffused if you had not succumbed to your craving for alcohol.

"Had you agreed to stay in and gone back up to bed that would have been the end of the matter.

"But you weren't prepared to do that. You weren't prepared to allow your husband to stand between you and yet another drink.

"And just as you had done in the past you resorted to violence. Only this time, unlike other times, there was a knife readily at hand.

"Having armed yourself with the knife, and knowing that Atakan Atay was unarmed, you repeatedly attacked your husband."

Judge Paul Sloan told Atay that she knew "just how precious a human life is".

He said: "No sentence I impose on you will even begin to ease his family's pain and suffering, that will remain with them always."

Atay, who was dressed in a black cardigan and had her hair scraped back in a ponytail, sobbed as she was sentenced to 14 years behind bars.

Toby Hedworth QC, defending, told the court that Atay wanted Atakan's family, who were in the public gallery, to know that she continues to feel profound "guilt" and "remorse" for what she's done.