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Tributes to 'gifted and beautiful' Ilford rough sleeper Henriett Szucs found dead in Custom House freezer

PUBLISHED: 08:12 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:26 08 May 2019

Henriett Szucs at the Welcome Centre in Ilford, which runs the Welcome Project to help homeless people in the area, in March 2015. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

Henriett Szucs at the Welcome Centre in Ilford, which runs the Welcome Project to help homeless people in the area, in March 2015. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

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An Ilford rough sleeping charity has paid tribute to its former client Henriett Szucs - one of two women found dead in the freezer of a Custom House flat.

A drawing Henriett Szucs gave to Sonia Lynch, manager of rough sleeping charity the Welcome Centre, in Ilford, in 2015. Picture: Sonia LynchA drawing Henriett Szucs gave to Sonia Lynch, manager of rough sleeping charity the Welcome Centre, in Ilford, in 2015. Picture: Sonia Lynch

The body of the 34-year-old, from Hungary, was found next to that of mum-of-two Mary Jane Mustafa, inside a chest freezer in a Vandome Close flat on Friday, April 26.

Both families have been informed.

Police do not know how long Henriett's body had been in the flat but have said that she spoke to someone she knew in Hungary on the phone in the summer of 2016 and are trying to discover if anybody had seen or heard from her since then.

Sonia Lynch, manager of homelessness charity The Welcome Centre, in St Mary's Road, confirmed that Henriett had been using its services until at least March 2015.

"It's not only tragic but extremely sad that she has died in such horrible circumstances," she told the Recorder.

"Such a disregard for someone's life."

The Recorder had previously spoken to Henriett, while visiting the centre in March 2015, who said that she came to the UK from Hungary hoping for a better life.

But after being here for just a few weeks, she was robbed in a brutal attack in north London in which her phone, money, passport and identity documents were taken.

Unable to replace them, she moved in with her boyfriend but ended up homeless as the relationship broke down.

"From the time that we knew Henriett, she was always laughing and smiling, despite her difficult circumstances of her homelessness situation," Sonia added.

"She used to draw and had a real gift with this, often drawing people with angels wings and their hands together as if they were praying.

"She was a beautiful, loving and trusting person who doesn't deserve this.

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"The staff and volunteers will be very shocked and saddened by this news."

Ilford Salvation Army captain Dr John Clifton added that Henriett spent the winter of 2014 in its night shelter in Clements Road.

He said: "We were so upset to hear this news.

"Many of our volunteers remember her although it is many years since we were in contact with her.

"We are praying for her family and for the investigation."

Mary Jane, 38, also known as MJ, was named on Friday.

She had been reported missing in May last year after leaving home with just £3 and her phone in her pocket.

An investigation had been ongoing to trace her and after she was identified, the Met Police referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in accordance with agreed protocols.

Post mortem examinations have now concluded for both women.

While no formal cause of death has been established, these have confirmed that both Mary Jane and Henriett suffered multiple injuries. Further tests are being carried out.

Det Ch Insp Simon Harding said that Henriett's family are "of course devastated and we would ask for their privacy to be respected".

He added: "We understand she was last heard from in the summer of 2016 when she spoke to somebody she knew in Hungary on the phone.

"We need to establish if that was the last known contact with Henriett and I would ask anyone who heard from her after that time to contact my team."

Anyone who can help is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8721 4205, via @MetCC or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

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