Man found guilty of savage London hotel attacks

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Philip Spence found guilty of hammer attack in London hotel
Philip Spence found guilty of hammer attack in London hotel



A man has been found guilty of the attempted murder of three women following a savage hammer attack at a London hotel.

Two sisters savagely beaten as they slept with their young children in the four-star Cumberland Hotel have told how the attack destroyed their lives.

Philip Spence, 32, bludgeoned three wealthy women, who were tourists from the United Arab Emirates, with a claw hammer - leaving them for dead. Words: PA

He fled the scene with a suitcase stuffed with ipads, gold jewellery and mobile phones, and dumped the hammer just outside the central London hotel.

Philip Spence found guilty of hammer attack in London hotel
Philip Spence found guilty of hammer attack in London hotel



One of his victims, Ohoud Al-Najjar, 34, was repeatedly hit with such force her skull split open as her nine year-old nephew cowered under the sheets next to her.

She survived the attack, but was left with just 5% brain power, can no longer speak and lost one eye.

Her sisters Khulood, 36, and Fatima, 31, were both also left with life threatening injuries and are still having to undergo medical treatment.

Spence was today found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of three counts of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary during the attack on April 6.

Spence, from near Harlesden in north-west London, was warned by Judge Anthony Leonard QC: "The sentence I will have to consider is a full life term."

Neofitos "Thomas" Efremi, 57, from Islington, north London, was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Philip Spence found guilty of hammer attack in London hotel
Philip Spence found guilty of hammer attack in London hotel



Jurors had heard the women left their hotel rooms unlocked on the night of the attack to allow a fourth sister to return later in the night.

But Spence, a drug addict, crept in and was seen by Khulood rifling through handbags shortly before 1.30am.

He attacked Khulood as she slept next to her two young daughters, and then turned his hammer on her sister Fatima, leaving them both unconscious. But the "savagery" of his attack on Ohoud was far worse - her skull was smashed so badly that brain tissue spilled out from a hole in her head.

The fourth sister Sheika Al-Mheiri returned later that night and discovered her sisters lying injured on the floor while blood had spattered on the walls.

In highly emotional victim impact statements released after the guilty verdicts were delivered, Khulood and Fatima said the attack stole their children's "innocence" and wrecked their lives.

Khulood, who had to give up work because of the severity of her injuries, said: "That night I lost everything, my way of life, my sister Ohoud and also my ability to care for my children as much as I would like.

"I am simply not myself any more. I feel very lonely and have (to) lay in a hospital bed without my sister, children and family. I am extremely upset and emotional. I cannot sleep for anxiety and flashbacks of the sounds of my children screaming."

She said she has been left on a cocktail of medication, adding: "My looks have changed forever; I am not even the same person when I look in the mirror."

She said: "When that man attacked myself and my sisters, and stole our belongings, he took far more than our property; he took away our futures, things that I had planned; dreams that I had for my
family and children.

"He also stole my children's innocence. They will never view the world in the same way. They do not trust anyone. They are now fearful to be alone and do not want to leave home."

She said "100 years in prison will not be enough" for the devastation Spence has caused her family.

Her sister Fatima said she "lost everything" the night of the attack.

She said: "When that man attacked myself and my sisters, and stole our belongings, he took far more than our property; he took away our futures, our plans, our happiness and our lives."

The brutal attack sparked fears it could deter wealthy tourists from the Middle East from visiting Britain, damaging the lucrative tourist industry.

But Met Police commander Mak Chishty sought to reassure the public that London remains a safe city.

He said: "The ramifications of this incident were felt across London, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other major cities across the world, feeling shocked and outraged and understandably frightened.

"I would like to give reassurance that an incident of this nature is thankfully very, very rare and the victims were not specifically targeted, followed or attacked because they are from the UAE."

He added: "This incident should not deter anyone from visiting London."

The Cumberland hotel said: "This was a deeply shocking incident and totally unprecedented."

But they said "the desperately sad truth is that Mr Spence could only access the bedroom because the door was left open".

They added: "Despite the horrific nature of this one isolated incident, the police and the mayor confirm that London is one of the safest capital cities in the world."

The two men were remanded in custody and will be sentenced on November 17 at Southwark Crown Court.

A pre-sentence report will be carried out for Spence.

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