Heartbroken daughter launches campaign after mum stabbed to death

Caroline Snowling with mum Hannah Leonard
Caroline Snowling with mum Hannah Leonard

A Barns Green woman whose mother was found dead after being stabbed in her own home has launched a campaign to help support families affected by homicide.

Hannah Leonard, 55, died after being stabbed at her home in Camden, London, on February 9.

Caroline Snowling with MP Jeremy Quin

Caroline Snowling with MP Jeremy Quin

Police said an investigation was launched and two people have been charged with murder.

Her heartbroken daughter Caroline Snowling was left without any closure due to issues surrounding second postmortems and victim support and she is petitioning to the Government for change.

Caroline was on holiday with her family when she received the news about her mother’s death.

She said: “The police officer phoned me. It was our first day and we were at Great Yarmouth and I could tell something wasn’t right. I remember he told me and my phone dropped out of my hand and I dropped on the floor.”

Tributes to Hannah Leonard

Tributes to Hannah Leonard

She described her mother as Mrs Doyle from Father Ted as she was ‘very Irish and very funny’.

She said: “You couldn’t go to her house without having a cup of tea and a sandwich. She was loving to me, loving to her grandchildren and was extremely funny. You couldn’t be in her presence without laughing.”

Caroline was told about the news 12 hours after national media reported the incident. She is calling for laws to stop victims being named by the press or social media before the next of kin have been informed.

She is also seeking to change current laws around the defence calling for a second postmortem.

She said currently defendants have 28 days after being charged to ask for a second postmortem which meant she was not able to plan the funeral or have closure.

“That resulted in me not being able to see or touch my mum at all not even hold her hand,” she said. “I had no closure I had my mothers coffin and that’s all I had. I had to hug my mother’s coffin on the floor.”

She added: “This resulted in me not knowing a date for the funeral. I’m not disputing the fact of having a second postmortem I disputing the time frame.”

Caroline is calling for defendants to get five days from being charged to indicate if they want a second postmortem or not.

She is also petitioning for changes to be made to support received.

She said she did not receive any counselling until last week and was also entitled to £12,000 victim’s support from the Government but the money would not be released to her until later in the year.

“I think a percentage of that should be made available to cover funeral expenses,” she said. “As well as the grief, as well as the shock I had these bills on top.

“It takes you to a very dark place and you can’t understand what’s going on in the background. Even now it doesn’t feel real.”

She added: “I can’t change my experience but what I can do from a bad experience is I can change it for future families.”

Horsham MP Jeremy Quin has also backed the campaign.

He said: “Caroline has raised good points. If a murder has been committed our first priority must always be to catch and imprison those responsible.

“However I am asking the question as to how long is really necessary for a defence team to demand a second autopsy. We do not want to give a guilty defendant the opportunity to escape justice on a technicality but we must be considerate to those who want to look after their relative and see to their last wishes.

“With social media it is, in this respect as in a number of others, easier to identify the problem than identify the solution. For journalists in these circumstances there is a clear code of conduct by which they are bound. Clearly passers-by, neighbours and members of the general public in spreading news may be unaware of the huge emotional impact that their words may inadvertently cause relatives.

“On funeral costs think Caroline raises a strong point.

“Caroline has raised interesting issues which need consideration.”

To sign the petition visit www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-my-mum-was-murdered-no-support-in-place-by-government-let-s-start-supporting-the-families