Friend and neighbours of an Irish woman stabbed to death at her North London home in Muswell Hill have described her as a “nice lady” who’d give you her “last fiver”.
Catherine Burke, 55, was found bound and gagged on 16 November at her Hill Road address in what police believe was a “botched robbery” after concerned neighbours raised the alarm.
The retired civil servant, originally from Galway, lived alone and friends says she had concerns about her safety after a previous break in three years ago. According to neighbours she had lived in the neighbourhood for 20 years.
Ms Burke had helped raise thousands of pounds for a neighbouring family when their child developed brain cancer. Friend and neighbour Lesley Gregory, 62, who has lived on the street for three decades and knew Ms Burke for around ten years, said: “She was just lovely. She was such a nice lady.”
She added: “Cathy wouldn’t open the door to just anyone. We need to find Cathy’s killer.
“She wouldn’t hurt a fly, she didn’t keep valuables in a safe, she was just getting by on her pension.
“We thought she had died of pneumonia or something. She was private in her own house but would love to come out with us for a party.
“We are really scared. My neighbour has boarded up her windows since Cathy was killed.”
Ms Burke was described by another neighbour, Fenelle Archer Wright, as “a very warm person, very friendly.” She added: “It’s scary that this has happened in our road.”
Ms Burke’s son, Nial, is in his early 20s and is a student in Brighton. He has since returned to North London to stay with his grandmother, and was described by family friends as “beyond distressed”.
“I’ve never known anyone like Cathy to be so concerned about home security. She got broken into about three years ago,” said Ms Gregory. “Since then she would never answer the door to someone she didn’t know. She would always look through the curtain.
“If she left the house she would check everything was locked five or six times. She got extra security and was obsessed, so how the hell did they get in?
“We are terrified. If this awful thing could happen to her it could have been any of us, truly.”
Scotland Yard launched a murder investigation following after a post-mortem on Saturday, which gave the provisional cause of death as stab injuries, having initially described the case as a “suspicious death”.
Anyone with information is asked to call the incident room on 020 8785 8244, or contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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