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Hannah Leonard murder: tributes to pride and passion of a ‘true Irish lady’

55-year-old was "a very strong and independent woman who loved her community"

14 February, 2018 — By William McLennan

Ms Leonard pictured at her daughter’s wedding in 2015

A woman who was murdered in her flat on the Chalcots estate has been described as a loving grandmother who was full of “pride and passion”.

Hannah Leonard was found dead at her tenth-floor flat in Bray on Friday.

Her daughter, Caroline Snowling, said her mother was “extremely loyal” and doted on her two grandsons, six-year-old Jack and Jamie, 15.

She said her mother, who was born in Cork, Ireland, before moving to London in the 1980s, was  a “true Irish lady” who was “a very strong and independent woman who loved her community”.

She added: “Thank you to anyone who ever showed my mum kindness and took the time to talk to her.”

She asked for floral tributes to be left outside her door at number 73, adding: “I know for sure that she was known in the community and loved. We are unable to put her to rest, so if anyone wants to leave a tribute, they can put flowers at her door.

“She was really sentimental about things and I know she’d like them at her door.”

The 55-year-old’s death has rocked neighbours, many of whom have endured seven months of stress and anxiety after being evacuated from their homes in June over fire safety fears.

In the months before her death, Ms Leonard, who lived alone, had been befriended by security personnel, who were employed as fire wardens to patrol the blocks while contractors removed flammable cladding and fixed internal safety defects.

She would regularly drop into their control room at the bottom of the tower in the middle of the night, even spending Christmas eve with them.

Sarah-Jane Millar, one of the managers who worked the 7pm to 7am shift, said: “She would come and sit with us overnight and we’d keep her company.”

She said that Ms Leonard had the “biggest love and pride for her family and Ireland,” adding: “Many evenings were spent listening to Irish folk tunes and her talking about her grandson whom she clearly adored.”

She said that Ms Leonard’s favourite song was Fields of Athenry. “Put that on and she would stop mid-sentence and start singing,” she said.

She added: “She was not afraid to tell you what she thought either. She was loyal and often had us in fits of laughter with her stories in the early hours of the morning.”

“She certainly touched all of us with her pride and passion,” she said.

Ms Millar said that her colleagues at Insight Risk Management were “absolutely gutted” to hear of Ms Leonard’s death. “It’s just such a shock to all of us,” she said.

In a message to her mother, Ms Snowling said: “I love you mum and will see you again soon but until then fly with the angels and always grace my side.

“I know my mum is with me and will always be by my side I will see you at the gates of Heaven soon.”

She praised police, who had been “phenomenal and extremely supportive,” adding: “They have given me hope in a time of despair.”

Police were called at around 10:30 on Friday morning and Ms Leonard was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Detectives from the Met’s homicide and major crime unit, led by Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Wall, launched a murder inquiry on Friday.

Lucy Casey, 43, and James Whitaker, 28, appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning, charged with Ms Leonard’s murder.

The pair, who are both from Kilburn, have been remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey tomorrow (Thursday).

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