Pictures released of woman attacked with hammer at luxury hotel
Pictures of a woman left with 5% brain capacity after a hammer attacker crept into her family’s room at a luxury hotel have been released for the first time.
Ohoud Al-Najjar and her sisters Khulood and Fatima were staying at the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch, London, in adjoining rooms in April 2014 when “hotel creeper” Philip Spence bludgeoned the family.
The trio were left with devastating injuries: Khulood has had 20 operations to rebuild her head and face; Fatima cannot taste or smell and has problems with her memory; and Ohoud can no longer speak and lost an eye.
Khulood said: “I was asleep but awoke when I heard footsteps. I opened my eyes to see somebody at the table looking through our stuff. I started to call out to my sister in the connecting room and the man came and put his face really close to mine, he was literally in front of my nose.
“He said ‘give me the f****** money’, and I felt a really hot liquid on my neck. I didn’t feel any pain at all, maybe it was the shock as he had hit me over the head with a hammer.
“The next thing I knew everybody was screaming and I remember my brother shouting at me that I was dying. My daughter Nora just kept crying ‘mama, mama, mama’.
“I still hear footsteps that aren’t there to this day. I end up opening the door to our room as I think somebody is out there. I am haunted by his steps moments before he bludgeoned us all.”
The family is suing GLH hotels, claiming security was inadequate. A civil trial is due to take place in May.
Spence, who had a history of sneaking into hotel rooms to steal, walked into the lobby and got up to the seventh floor where the family was staying.
They had left the room door unlocked as they believed they were safe.
A spokesman for GLH said: “Philip Spence, convicted in 2014, bears sole responsibility for the brutal injuries he inflicted on the Al-Najjar family five years ago. The Al-Najjar sisters have since remained in our thoughts.
“Notwithstanding our sincere sympathies, the hotel cannot accept liability given the facts surrounding this dreadful incident, which include these guests having left their hotel bedroom door ajar, visible from the corridor, whilst the family was asleep inside.
“The sad truth is that the innocuous-looking Spence would not have been able to enter the room opportunistically, had the self-locking mechanism of the room’s door not been propped open. It was an appalling incident, made all the more shocking by its unwarranted brutality for which Philip Spence rightly has a long sentence to serve.
“The Al-Najjar family suffered an unimaginable ordeal at the hands of a stranger who, with our full support and the aid of the hotel’s CCTV, was swiftly apprehended, tried and convicted. Philip Spence’s unconscionable actions have affected all those who sought to help the Al-Najar family that night.”
The family, from Abu Dhabi, released pictures of Ohoud before and after the attack, to show the devastation her injuries caused.
Fatima said: “Who could imagine that somebody would come to the seventh floor in the middle of the night and enter our room? In our culture a hotel is a safe place.
“I haven’t been able to sleep for more than one hour at a time since the attack. I am afraid to go to sleep as I am scared that something will happen to me and I won’t wake up. It is impossible to rest and it is a living nightmare.
“We feel like we have lost everything for no reason. We have been in physical and mental pain ever since the attack.”
Khulood, who was confined to a wheelchair for more than a year after the attack, said Ohoud has no quality of life and cannot express herself to show if she is in pain.
She added: “My children were traumatised by what they saw. I lost seeing part of their childhood and haven’t had a chance to be a real mum for five years.
“I used to do everything for them but I haven’t been able to since the attack. They lost their innocence that night and have had to grow up too fast.
“They still have nightmares and are always worried that we are going to be hurt by another bad man. They are scared to go anywhere and wanted to put cameras all over our house in case somebody came to kill us.
“My son said to me, on that night we left the door to our hotel room open, but the price for that was the door to our lives closing. This is our reality now.”
Spence was convicted of three counts of attempted murder and was initially jailed for a minimum of 18 years, but this was increased to 27 years by appeal judges.
Riffat Yaqub, partner at Hodge Jones and Allen, who is representing the family, said: “This brutal and mindless attack while a family slept in the privacy of their hotel room left three sisters with horrific and irreversible life-changing injuries.
“On the seventh floor of a luxury London hotel they had every right to think that they would be safe. But Spence was able to walk in unhindered to carry out his crimes.
“Five years on and the sisters are still fighting for justice and to get the apology from the hotel owners we feel they deserve.”