FULL REPORT: Life in prison for ‘savage’ murderer

Harrogate man Oktay Kilic sentenced to life in prison. (S)
Harrogate man Oktay Kilic sentenced to life in prison. (S)

A Harrogate man who murdered his love rival in a ‘brutal’ and ‘savage’ knife attack has been jailed for life.

A jury found Oktay Kilic, 40, of Kent Drive guilty at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday (January 27) after less an hour of deliberations. He will serve a minimum of 27 years in prison.

Mark Leslie John Berney

Mark Leslie John Berney

Turkish-born Kilic stabbed Knaresborough man, Mark Berney, 44, more than 30 times with a six inch kitchen knife in a frenzied attack on August 3 last year, after he found him in a romantic liaison with his wife, Kathleen Kilic.

Handing down a life sentence Judge Geoffrey Marson QC described the attack as ‘brutal’. He told Kilic: “Mr Berney was a loving and much loved family man. He was in no way responsible for the breakdown of your marriage and I am satisfied that he believed that Kathleen’s marriage was over.

“He is not to blame, he did not deserve to die. No words of mine can bring comfort to those who have been so profoundly affected by what you did. His family will have to live with what you did for the rest of their lives.”

The court heard that there was an element of premeditation and that Kilic armed himself with a knife and drove to Whipley Lane near Ripley after tracking his wife’s movements on an iPhone app.

Police at the scene in Whipley Bank, Ripley, where Mark Berney was murdered. See Ross Parry copy RPYSTAB : A "possessive and controlling" husband tracked his wife's movements with an app before finding her with another man - who he then killed with a kitchen knife in front of their children, a court heard.  Oktay Kilic, 40, allegedly used a mobile app called Find a Friend and enlisted one of his taxi driver friends to locate the two - who were engaged in sexual activity inside her car on a country lane.  The Turkish taxi driver took his children in the car with him before pulling up directly in front of the lovers and leaped out - and allegedly slashing Mark Berney, 44, multiple times with a 16 centimetre blade, a jury was told.  Leeds Crown Court was told how Mr Kilic's wife, solicitor Kathleen Kilic, had been subject to physical and emotional abuse for years before the incident took place on August 3, 2014 in Ripley, North Yorks.

Police at the scene in Whipley Bank, Ripley, where Mark Berney was murdered. See Ross Parry copy RPYSTAB : A "possessive and controlling" husband tracked his wife's movements with an app before finding her with another man - who he then killed with a kitchen knife in front of their children, a court heard. Oktay Kilic, 40, allegedly used a mobile app called Find a Friend and enlisted one of his taxi driver friends to locate the two - who were engaged in sexual activity inside her car on a country lane. The Turkish taxi driver took his children in the car with him before pulling up directly in front of the lovers and leaped out - and allegedly slashing Mark Berney, 44, multiple times with a 16 centimetre blade, a jury was told. Leeds Crown Court was told how Mr Kilic's wife, solicitor Kathleen Kilic, had been subject to physical and emotional abuse for years before the incident took place on August 3, 2014 in Ripley, North Yorks.

Mrs Kilic, a Harrogate solicitor had told her husband she was meeting a client but instead went to meet Mr Berney, an old school friend who she had recently embarked on a romantic relationship with.

Kilic found the pair being intimate with each other in her car parked up on Whipley Lane.

Mr Marson QC said to Kilic: “Once at the scene you were armed with that dreadful knife and you immediately went to where he was sitting, forced the door open and attacked him. It was a brutal attack. It is perfectly obvious you intended to kill him.”

Mr Berney suffered serious injuries as a result of the frenzied attack and died quickly, his throat was slashed and his heart was punctured.

After Kilic was sentenced to life in jail, Mr Berney’s family said : “We feel that justice has been done and Mark can now rest in peace.”

A hole in my heart that will never heal

The court heard Mr Berney was a ‘family man’. A statement from the family was read out in court. His sister-in-law Tina Berney said: “I can’t begin to tell you the effect Mark’s death has had on our family.” She said her husband Steve, and their three children were devastated by Mr Berney’s death and that he was ‘always there to lend a hand and help out’.

“No parent should ever have to sit down their children and explain the horrible death their uncle suffered,” she said: “This should never have happened in today’s society.”

She added: “Rose and Michael lost a much loved son. Their lives have been turned upside down.” Mr Berney’s 21-year-old daughter Amy said: “There is a hole in my heart that is never going to heal,” in a statement read out in court.

“My dad was my best friend, he was always there for me no matter what.”

At court, Det Supt Dai Malyn, head of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit told the Advertiser: “I am pleased with the sentence. We believe we put an overwhelming case to the court of a very brutal, very savage murder.”

He added: “The family of Mr Berney behaved impeccably and with dignity as they listened to graphic evidence. Nothing can replace Mark or compensate for his loss, having spoke to the family from day one I know that the sentence and conviction has given some degree of satisfaction and comfort.”

No one knows what children witnessed

Mr Marson increased Kilic’s sentence because he took his children to the scene of the crime.

He told him that, ‘taking your children to the scene of the killing in the knowledge that it was likely that they would witness substantial and significant violence,’ was an aggravating feature of the case. Mr Marson said: “No one knows what they [Killic’s children] actually saw of this brutal attack. It is perfectly apparent, however, that when you took them to their grandmother’s they were extremely distressed. I simply do not know the psychological effect it will have on them.”

Kilic clearly lied over murder weapon

Kilic insisted that he did not take the knife used in the attack to Whipley Lane during the trial. He said after finding the couple parked up in the lay by he went to retrieve his phone, which he had used to track Mrs Kilic, from the boot of the car and saw the knife, which was left in the car from a family picnic at Fewston reservoir.

Mr Marson said: “That was clearly a lie and your explanation that when you arrived at the scene you went to the boot for your phone is ridiculous.”

He added: “You armed yourself with a knife with a 16 cm blade. I am entirely satisfied that you took it with you intending to have it available as a weapon.”

Mental turmoil over marriage

The murder took place against the backdrop of the Kilic’s marital difficulties.

Defending John McDermott QC said Kilic’s life had been in turmoil for months as his marriage faced problems.

“The killing would not have taken place if it was not for the substantial background behind it.”

Defending Mr McDermott said: “From February onward Kilic was in mental turmoil over the state of his marriage. He was accused of paranoia over his suspicions which were unwittingly fact.”

Mrs Kilic told the court that she spoke to Turkish born Kilic over the internet before travelling to meet him in 2005.

Kilic had wanted to live in Turkey, but as Mrs Kilic was a Cambridge graduate and a solicitor she wanted to remain in the UK and further her career.

The couple were married in 2006 but faced difficulties when Kilic started gambling. He lost £25,000 over six or seven years. On occasions Kilic was violent towards his wife, who early in 2014 began exchanging explicit text messages with other men before reconnecting with Mr Berney, in June 2014.

Judge Marson said that Mr Berney thought the marriage was over. “Mark Berney made it clear that he did not want to be responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. It is clear that he was not.”

Monitoring wife’s movements

Kilic used the iPhone app ‘Find my phone’ to monitor his wife’s whereabouts on August 3 when she went to meet Mr Berney.

DSI Dai Malyn said: “One of the most worrying features of this case of course if the ease of which a jealous and possessive partner could monitor and search the movements of his wife. There will be many others in a similar type of relationship. Surveillance is easy with apps and technology as proved in this case. People need to report this to police, I have seen through the trial the tragic consequences.”

DSI Malyn said the serious crime unit has seen an increase in the use of surveillance technology but said they had never seen it used to this ‘devastating effect’ before.

Police are encouraging anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse or believes they are being harassed or stalked to contact them on 101.