VICTIM OF THE BULLETS; EXCLUSIVE Little Alistair Grimason Was an Ordinary Boy on Holiday in Turkey with His Family. He Was Shot in the Chest by a Man in a Cafe Arguing about a Mobile. in Turkey, Where Shootings Are Rife and Arms Control Lax, There Are 3,000 Deaths a Year. Alistair Is Yet Another

The Mirror (London, England), June 19, 2006 | Go to article overview

VICTIM OF THE BULLETS; EXCLUSIVE Little Alistair Grimason Was an Ordinary Boy on Holiday in Turkey with His Family. He Was Shot in the Chest by a Man in a Cafe Arguing about a Mobile. in Turkey, Where Shootings Are Rife and Arms Control Lax, There Are 3,000 Deaths a Year. Alistair Is Yet Another


Byline: By ROS WYNNE-JONES in Turkey

IN the summer sunshine, the scene is picturepostcard as the Aegean Sea laps at a little beach in a perfect cove on the west coast of Turkey.

At the Kivanc Cafe, locals sit at tables sipping strong coffee. "Coffee?" the patron calls out to us. "Kofta? Beer?"

Shaking his head, David Grimason walks past quickly, onto the beach, looking out to sea.

It has taken every ounce of strength he has to return here, to the broad bay of Yeni Foca, a quiet coastal resort full of Turkish holiday homes.

"Alistair was so happy here," David says, pointing to the strip of sand between the cafe and the sea. "He was happy anywhere. But down at the water's edge with his shoes off, playing in the sand..."

His voice trails off. Three years ago, in the same spot where the patron is touting coffee, David's two-year-old son was fatally wounded by a gunman's bullet.

"The only comfort is that the worst thing that can ever happen to my wife Ozlem and I has already happened," David says.

We are standing in Ali Star Street - named in little Alistair's honour. David's son is now a national symbol of the Turkish anti-gun movement.

"I was always happy here," he says. "It seemed perfectly safe.""

The 34-year-old printer from East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, keeps his head turned towards the bay where his family spent three happy summers. His wife's Turkish family had a holiday home in Foca then.

"At times, you just want to go into a dark room and scream," he says.

"But we want Alistair to be proud of us."

This is how he and Ozlem go on, channelling their grief and anger into campaigning in their son's name.

After taking on the Turkish authorities - collecting 200,000 signatures for a petition against Turkey's gun culture - they are now backing Oxfam's Control Arms campaign, launched today in a bid to get governments to sign up to tighter gun laws.

"More than 3,000 people are killed a year in Turkey by guns," David says. "There are also 10,514 injuries. There's 10 gun-related funerals a day - many of them children like Alistair. We had to do something."

On July 7, 2003, Ozlem had been drinking coffee in the cafe with her son. It was 10pm and he was asleep in his pushchair.

As the family were paying the bill, an argument began on the next table, erupting into gunfire as a man stood up, spraying bullets across the cafe.

Ozlem fled with her terrified family, dragging Alistair's pushchair on to the seafront. Her mother, 82-year-old grandmother, and sister Ozge, now 25, escaped with them.

"When they got outside, Ozlem saw there was blood on Alistair's shirt," David says - and three years later his eyes still register utter disbelief.

Alistair died in his grandmother's arms on the way to hospital. In the confusion, Ozlem got into the police car behind, and did not know he was dead until she reached the hospital.

"Alistair hated loud noises, but he was asleep when it happened," David says. "There is a very, very small comfort in that. …

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VICTIM OF THE BULLETS; EXCLUSIVE Little Alistair Grimason Was an Ordinary Boy on Holiday in Turkey with His Family. He Was Shot in the Chest by a Man in a Cafe Arguing about a Mobile. in Turkey, Where Shootings Are Rife and Arms Control Lax, There Are 3,000 Deaths a Year. Alistair Is Yet Another
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