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This story is from Spennynews, Issue 147 - 25th July 2009

Face to face with the accused killer

It has been four years since a terrorist’s bomb ended the life of 21 year old Helyn Bennett. Helyn from South Street in Spennymoor was on holiday in Kusadasi in Turkey when a bomb was detonated on the bus she was travelling in. With Helyn on the bus were her fiancé Stephen Stables, her brother Adam, cousin Sam Punshon, aunt Toni Punshon and her partner Michael Aspinall. All were injured in the blast. However, Helyn’s mum Sharon Holden and her husband Tom, also from South Street, had taken a boat trip to Greece, thus avoiding the atrocity. The bombing on 16th July 2005 also killed four others, including Tara Whelan, aged 17 from Ireland. On 30th June, Mrs. Holden and her twin sister Toni Punshon returned to Turkey for the first time since the attack to attend the trial of the terrorist accused of the murders. It was in the court in Izmir that Mrs. Holden finally came face to face with the man accused of her daughter’s murder, known only as MSF. After finally meeting him, Sharon was shocked to hear that, at the defence’s request, the trial was being delayed another three months. It is now scheduled for October. Despite the delay, Sharon felt a little peace at seeing the accused. She could finally put a face to MSF who is accused of belonging to the terrorist group PKK. As well as the five murders, MSF is charged with the attempted murders of everyone else on the bus. The police are confident of their evidence against him and if found guilty, he could face 38 years in prison per murder plus time for the other charges. Sharon told The Spennynews that she and Toni, along with family members of the victims, were taken to the spot where the bombing took place. Here they were able to lay flowers at the scene; passers-by were invited to lay red roses too. Sharon and Toni supported Tara’s two brothers who had travelled to Turkey for the trial. She said, “We supported each other.” The brothers had taken a framed photo of Tara to the court so Mrs. Holden could see what she looked like. Unfortunately, the airline had failed to deliver her own luggage, so her photos of Helyn didn’t arrive. Mrs. Holden heaped praise upon the Mayor, Turkish and British Embassy officials for all they had done for her during the visit. She said, “The Mayor even took us out for a meal in a proper Tu r k i s h restaurant. Time wasn’t a problem for him - he said we could take as long as we liked.” She is not sure if she will return for the trial in October.

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