Mom found hanged alongside drowned son, 7, ‘was terrified of dying of cancer & wanted to escape toxic marriage’

Russian finance analyst Yulia Gokcedag, 35, and her son Timur, seven, were found dead at home on the Isle of Dogs, East London in August.

She was found hanging at an apartment where Timur was also discovered drowned in the bath with his clothes laid out on the side.

Doctors gave Mrs Gokcedag a 97 percent of surviving cancer but she believed she would be part of the thnree percent exception, the coroner heard.

She also told her mum she was afraid to die despite going on to take her own life, it was said.

Mrs Gokcedag was due to undergo surgery days before she died on August 13, and was also receiving therapy to help cope with her fear, insomnia and anxiety.

A coroner heard Mrs Gokcedag also described feelings of psychological abuse to her psychiatrist and said she was planning to divorce her husband and take Timur to Russia.

The inquest into their deaths was opened on August 24 and resumed today at Poplar Coroners Court.

Husband Mehmet Gokcedag, a financial risk manager from Wimbledon, told the inquest: "It is very unimaginable why and how she could do this.

"The child that came out of her, why would she take his life?"

In a statement read to the court, a friend said Mrs Gokcedag confided in her during lockdown about her cancer and about wanting a divorce.

Katharina Sellner, who lived next door to Mrs Gokcedag said she often heard Mr Gokcedag shouting from next door and that she called the cops once due to fears for their safety.

She told the inquest: "From April 2020 when we were in lockdown because of the pandemic, Yulia would open up to me.

"I am aware that she had cancer but she seemed to be improving. In the first year living as neighbours, we heard a lot of shouting next door.

"Leading up to December 2019, the shouting became worse. On one occasion, I was woken in the middle on the night by Mehmet shouting.

"I called police as I heard Mehmet shouting very loudly. He shouted 'learn more or go back to your country and learn English.'

"I heard Timur shouting to Mehmet 'please stop, please stop shouting daddy' "This was not the first time I heard the shouting."

She added: "She said Mehmet would not let Timur speak Russian. She told me she wanted a divorce. She told me she was depressed.

"We had a code word called 'tree' and I asked Yulia to text it to me if she was in danger."

She later added: "I have never seen Mehmet be violent. On one occasion in lockdown, I saw Mehmet yank his son's arm and pull him towards him."

Mr Gokcedag objected to Katharina's statement but added: "We had certain marriage issues, I do accept."


The British-Turkish banker told the coroner Mrs Gokcedag and her mother Elena Galieva would also shout at him and that he felt excluded when they spoke in Russian.

He added: "It was a very difficult life. I have a stressful job, yes I did shout but I never abused my wife."

Mr Gokcedag wept as he recalled fond memories of Yulia.

"She never said she thought Timur would be better off dead. She loved him."

He added: "She said that there was a constant vibration inside her. Something vibrating that she could not get out of her body. She had a fear of death."

Mr Gokcedag told of the last time he saw his wife and son at their home, seeing his sleeping son and cuddling his wife on the morning on August 12.

He said: "Timur was sleeping. I went to Yulia and I asked my wife if she would like to be with me and she said 'yes'.

"We had intimacy as a husband and wife that morning. Then we cuddled and we talked about quite a lot of things."

Pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl found no evidence of third-party involvement in Yulia's death, no marks of recent or historic violence or self harm, and gave a medical cause of death of hanging.

Regarding Timur's death, pathologist Dr Cary found minimal bruising possibly caused by immersion and gave a medical cause of death as drowning.

Mum Ms Galieva referred to Mrs Gokcedag as the dream daughter who was a happy, healthy person before her marriage.

After her cancer diagnosis, Mrs Gokcedag asked her mum to come to London in January.

Speaking at the inquest, Ms Galieva said: "Yulia was the daughter you could only dream about.

"She was a very kind person. She had a lot of friends. She would more often think about other people than think about herself.

"She would constantly blame herself of everything. It has destroyed her from the inside."

She added: "She used to tell me she felt like 'a storm is lying on my chest.' She was even unable to cry.

"She was keeping all her emotions inside."

Ms Galieva said her daughter expressed wanting to drown herself in May and asked her mum to take Timur to Russia before her July operation.

She said she was aware of her daughter's anxieties, but believed nothing would happen as she was with her son.

"I was 100 per cent sure that if Yulia had Timur with her, nothing could happen to her," she said.

Her mum said her daughter was also scared by information about cancer she found on the internet.

She added: "Before her marriage, Yulia was a happy and healthy person. I became witness to how toxic their relationship was."

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