Hospital order for son who killed his mum and sister

Cohen family's Beigel Bake 24-hour shop in Brick Lane, Bethnal Green. Picture: Mike Brooke

Cohen family's Beigel Bake 24-hour shop in Brick Lane, Bethnal Green. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

The son of a Brick Lane bagel tycoon has been given an indefinite hospital order after a jury found he stabbed his mother and sister to death at the family home.

Joshua Cohen, 28, has been locked up at Broadmoor high security hospital since the frenzied attack on mother-of-five Louise Cohen, 64, and Hannah Cohen, 33, in August last year.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC ruled him unfit to stand trial as he is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia “characterised by thought disorder and paranoid delusions”.

Following a three-day trial of issue, an Old Bailey jury found Cohen did commit the act of killing the two women in the basement of their six-bedroom mansion in Golders Green, north London.

Judge Hilliard said Cohen would remain at Broadmoor under an indefinite hospital order.

The court heard that Cohen had worked at the renowned family-owned Beigel Bake shop in Brick Lane.

But his brother Nathan, 31, said he had “issues” with customers and other staff so stopped working with him there.

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He also moved to an annex at the bottom of the garden, only being allowed back in to the main house if another brother was present.

The other inhabitants of the three-storey property were Nathan and Hannah Cohen and their mother Louise, whose husband Amos died in August 2016.

The sequence of events on August 11 last year were captured on CCTV at the house.

At about 8pm, Cohen tapped on the window of his mother’s downstairs bedroom.

She let him in while his sister was vacuuming in the sitting room, the court heard.

Cohen went into the kitchen and was followed by the two women, who were then attacked in the basement laundry room.

Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC told jurors: “Hannah and Louise Cohen were never seen again. In the next few minutes both of them were stabbed to death in the laundry room in the basement.”

Cohen used two large kitchen knives, an iron or meat tenderiser to attack the two women.

Mrs Cohen suffered 13 stab wounds to her head, face and body and was bludgeoned over the head.

She also suffered cuts to her hands as she desperately tried to fend off her attacker.

Her daughter Hannah would have died in seconds after Cohen stabbed her in the neck, severing the carotid artery.

Cohen emerged minutes later with blood on his head and legs, carrying bloodstained clothes upstairs, jurors heard.

He changed into a red hooded top and grey tracksuit bottoms before leaving the house, the court was told.

He was arrested in nearby Golders Hill Park the following day and charged with two counts of murder.

Giving evidence, Nathan Cohen tearfully described how he found his mother’s and sister’s bodies after he came home from a shift at the bagel bakery.

Mr Cohen said he was keen to catch the second half of an Arsenal match and did not see his mother, who slept downstairs because of a knee injury.

He said: “As you go upstairs, you can see into the kitchen and I noticed there was a lot of mess on the floor.

“There was red footprints to the end of the kitchen so I thought that was a bit odd.

“Then I came downstairs and went into the kitchen and I noticed there was lots of footprints. Initially I didn’t realise. I came to realise it was blood.

“It came to the end of the kitchen, leading back to the basement.”

Mr Cohen wept as he told jurors: “I was going ‘What’s going on here?’. I followed them (the footprints). I saw my mum and sister lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

“First I was in shock and went over to my mum. I was tapping her, going ‘Mum, Mum’.

“I turned to my sister. She was very pale. I straightaway called 999. I said ‘You’ve got to come’. They said an ambulance was coming.

“They said ‘Are they breathing?’. I said ‘You’ve got to get here quickly. You’ve got to get here right now’.”

He said there was no response from either woman.

Two large blood-stained kitchen knives were later recovered from the kitchen bin and basement.

Cohen, who sat in the dock surrounded by psychiatric staff, made no reaction as the jury returned after 32 minutes of deliberations.

His siblings, who were in court throughout the case, looked on intently as the judge handed him a hospital order without limit of time.

Judge Hilliard told the jury: “You will not be surprised to hear the position is the defendant is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

“He is currently residing at Broadmoor special hospital, a high security hospital. He will remain there, where he will be treated in secure care and, if he becomes fit to stand trial, a trial will be held at that stage.”