Niece describes elderly aunt’s fight for life after brutal Camden robbery

Stella Magarshack, 87, has been described as very caring and independent by family and friends

Stella Magarshack, 87, has been described as very caring and independent by family and friends - Credit: Archant

A niece has described how her “incredibly active” 87-year-old aunt is drifting in and out of consciousness in hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage following the attack in her Albert Street home

Self portrait by Stella Magarshack

Self portrait by Stella Magarshack - Credit: Archant

Camden artist Stella Magarshack, 87, who taught at King Alfred’s School in Golders Green, remains in a critical condition in hospital after being robbed on Tuesday at 8pm.

Police confirmed today that she has suffered a brain haemorrhage.

Stella was returning from grocery shopping when a man followed her into her family home. When she asked who he was there to see, he snatched her bag and fled.

She went upstairs to tell her family, but she collapsed soon afterwards.

Stella Magarshack trimmed the outside of the hedge in her front garden into the shape of a cat

Stella Magarshack trimmed the outside of the hedge in her front garden into the shape of a cat - Credit: Archant

Her niece, Emily Morris, who rushed back from the USA when she heard about the attack, fought back tears as she told the Ham&High that her aunt is still sometimes alert in hospital as she drifts in and out of consciousness.

She said Stella, who grew up in Hampstead and went to New End Primary School, was “still painting, still incredibly active” before the robbery.

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“She’s still looking after the whole family,” Emily said. “This idea that you’re just because you’re old, you’re dependent... She wasn’t at all.”

“She just felt completely humiliated by it [the attack.]”

Stella, who exhibited her paintings at Lauderdale House in 2011, lived with her extended family in a penthouse between two conjoined Victorian houses on Albert Street.

Unmarried and childless, she cared for her late sister’s six children, moving there in the 1970s.

Stella’s 58-year-old niece said her “caring” aunt was in the middle of preparing a Christmas dinner for 25 people before the robbery.

Stella was continuously tending the house, recently shaping the front garden hedge into a cat.

Highly literary and cultural, she was a scholarship pupil at City of London School for Girls and studied at St Martins and the Royal College of Art before becoming an art teacher.

Her father, David Magarshack, a Russian Jew, was best known for his translations of Dostoevsky.

Neighbour Ken Garland, a well-known graphic designer, described Stella as a “selfless companion” and said he regarded her art as “excellent.”

He added that the Morris family were the first “yuppies” on the street in the 1960s, with his family joining them later. Soon the whole street was full of young, upwardly mobile people.

“Her art was very intimate, it was to do with family life. It often had animals, especially cats. She had her own style,” he described.

A neighbour who studied with Stella at art school, but who did not want to be named, described her as an “outstanding student and painter.”

No arrests have been made following the robbery, but the suspect is described as a tall black man.

Det Insp Adam Ghaboos, from Camden CID, said: “This was a nasty robbery which has left an elderly lady fighting for her life. Our thoughts are with the victim and her family and friends during this difficult time.”

He added: “We are determined to find the person responsible and we would urge any witnesses or anyone with information to contact the police or Crimestoppers as soon as possible.”

Any witnesses or anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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