A CALLOUS killer was today facing life behind bars after being found guilty of murdering his estranged wife in her home and leaving her body for their young children to find.
Erhan Havaleoglu, 36, stabbed Leighanne Cameron ten times in the neck and twice in the back at the property in Mid Calder last October.
The “savage” killer then fled the scene and left her dying on the floor – while their five-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son slept upstairs.
Havaleoglu, who had spent the day looking after his children, then drove to Edinburgh via a back road where police believe he ditched the murder weapon and clothes he was wearing.
They have never been found, but a speck of city council care worker Leighanne’s blood was found on Havaleoglu’s shoes and on the front door of his flat – a property she had never visited.
A fatally wounded Leighanne, 29, was discovered by her boyfriend Philip Kilkenny, who, the court heard, she had been seeing behind Havaleoglu’s back for six months before they split.
Kilkenny, 42, found Leighanne lying in a pool of blood and called police – telling them that Havaleoglu had “told her she’d never get to love another man”.
Leighanne was rushed to hospital, but there was nothing doctors could do to save her life.
Havaleoglu had pleaded not guilty to murdering his estranged wife five months after they split up, blaming the killing on Kilkenny.
But a jury saw through the former Turkish soldier’s lies and took just under seven hours to find him guilty, by majority, of the “brutal” murder at the High Court in Paisley yesterday.
More than a dozen friends and family of former Balerno High School pupil Leighanne were in court to hear the verdict.
Some punched the air and shouted “yes”.
Others broke down in tears as the judge told Havaleoglu he would be jailed for life for murdering Leighanne at the house they once shared in Calder House Road.
Leighanne’s father, David Cameron, cried as he came to terms with the fact that his daughter’s killer had been brought to justice.
Temporary judge Johanna Johnston QC lambasted Havaleoglu for murdering Leighanne and leaving her children to find her body.
She said: “You have been convicted by a jury of murder – the most serious crime under our law.
“This was a brutal and sustained attack, during which you inflicted the most savage injuries to the deceased.
“You left her dying in her own home with her children asleep upstairs.
“Had it not been for Mr Kilkenny attending at the house, which was unknown to you, the children could have discovered the ghastly scene of their mother’s murder.
“You have left a family devastated by the loss of a much-loved mother, daughter and sister, and you have robbed a young woman of her future with her family.
“There is only one punishment for murder and that is life in prison.”
A desperate Havaleoglu – who appeared shaken as the verdict was delivered – protested his innocence from the dock.
He yelled: “I didn’t do it, I really didn’t do it. They’re my kids, I didn’t do it.”
Havaleoglu had lodged special defences of self-defence and incrimination to the murder charge, claiming he hit Leighanne to protect himself and that she was murdered by Kilkenny.
He claimed she attacked him during an angry conversation about their children and said Leighanne was left with no more than a bloodied mouth after their fight. He also insisted that Kilkenny came in to the house and split up their fight – and told the jury that Leighanne was alive when he left her with her boyfriend.
Havaleoglu was, however, cleared of five charges of assaulting three other women following the end of the two-week trial yesterday.
He was remanded in custody to be assessed by social workers ahead of sentencing on the murder charge. He is due to return to court next month to learn the minimum sentence he must serve before he becomes eligible for parole.
Police who helped bring Havaleoglu to justice today condemned his lies since the day he was arrested.
Detective Chief Inspector Raymond Brown, of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, said: “Leighanne’s death has been absolutely devastating for her family and those close to her.
“Her five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son have been robbed of their loving mum in the most horrific of circumstances.
“Havaleoglu has callously refused to admit responsibility for Leighanne’s murder ever since, despite extensive evidence against him, and we welcome the court’s decision.”
DCI Brown added: “Unfortunately, nothing can undo his actions that day but hopefully this verdict brings some sense of closure to all who knew and loved Leighanne.”
Leighanne was originally from Kirknewton and worked at Clovenstone Care Home in the Capital when she died.
Shortly after her death last October, her family paid a glowing tribute in a statement issued by Police Scotland.
It said: “Leighanne was a much-loved daughter, sister and mother of two children whom she adored, and who absolutely adored her.
“She was an intelligent and talented individual with huge energy and her tragic loss has left us and her wide circle of genuine friends all utterly devastated.”