The family of a mother and daughter who were stabbed to death at their home have described the shock and devastation caused by the tragedy.
The bodies of Leah Cohen, 66, and Hannah Cohen, 33, were discovered by police in Golders Green, north-west London, last Friday night.
Joshua Cohen — Leah’s son and Hannah’s brother — faces two charges of murder and will go on trial at the Old Bailey in February.
In a statement, family members said they were “shocked and devastated” and were “struggling to come to terms with the tragedy”.
But they had been comforted by the messages of support from friends and members of the community, the statement said.
Hannah, who would have celebrated her birthday this week, had studied psychology at City University London, and was a former pupil of Carmel College, the now-closed Jewish boarding school.
She ran Coco Cakes, a cake business, with her sister-in-law, Deborah Cohen.
The Cohen family are the owners of Beigel Bake, the well-known 24-hour bakery in Brick Lane in London’s East End.
Moshe Moses, a family friend who issued the statement on behalf of the Cohens, paid tribute to Hannah and Leah, saying they were both “very
generous, kind and selfless”.
Mr Moses said: “Hannah was always the most kind-hearted, caring, altruistic person you could meet, who could never do enough to help others.
“She was devoted to her family and her caring and good nature will be missed by so many. She was a brilliant cook and always spoiled family and friends with delicious home-cooked food and delicious cakes and desserts.
“Leah was a fantastic person with a great sense of humour who adored her children and grandchildren.”
Members of the family were visibly upset on Tuesday morning as they visited the house in Golders Green Crescent, where forensics officers were still working.
Meanwhile the local Jewish community was struggling to come to terms with the violent deaths in the heart of the normally peaceful suburb.
Neighbour Ronnie Nachman, a family friend, told the JC the news of Hannah and Leah’s deaths had “made his skin crawl”.
Mr Nachman, who runs a garage yards from the Cohen family home, described Hannah as an “angel”, adding that her mother was a “very polite and courteous” woman.
He said: “I know the family from a long time ago. I knew them from Stamford Hill in the ’70s. You meet them, you fix their car and you get to know them.
“Hannah was a woman who wouldn’t harm a fly. And Leah was very easy-going. I saw her on Friday and I was talking to her — we had a laugh. And a few hours later she was gone.”
Moshe Ben Ezra, the manager of the nearby Golders Green Kosher Deli, where the family shopped, said the community was in “complete shock”.
Hannah Charles, 25, who lives on Golders Green Crescent, recalled occasions when the Cohens had come for dinner with her family.
Ms Charles said: “It is really shocking — it just still hasn’t really sunk in.”
A resident of nearby Hoop Lane, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed surprise that the attack took place in “quiet, safe” Golders Green.
She said: “You don’t expect it. We’ve lived here 37 years. It’s quieter, even though we’re right by the station, but in this whole street there aren’t that many Jewish people. It’s a safe area. It’s so sad. You just think of the family.”
Ruth Evans, a friend of Hannah’s from Carmel College, said she was like a “best friend, sister and mum rolled into one”, adding that there was “no one more deserving of a happy life”.
She also recalled Hannah’s talent for general knowledge, and the pair used to enjoy watching quiz shows together, with Hannah “quietly getting every answer correct”.
Miss Evans, 33, said: “It’s amazing how someone so shy and humble can shine so bright. Hannah never complained about things, whatever it was she just got on with it.
“She was such a good girl at school, she was never in trouble. I have lovely memories of the weekends I used to spend at their house with their mum looking after us.