Alperton man led hammer attack on three sisters with ‘incredible force’

Philip Spence attacked the three sisters at the Cumberland Hotel (Pic credit Google Streetview)

Philip Spence attacked the three sisters at the Cumberland Hotel (Pic credit Google Streetview) - Credit: Archant

An attacker from Alperton who savagely beat three sisters with a claw hammer as they slept alongside their young children used “incredible force” as he repeatedly hit the women, a court has heard.

Philip Spence, 32, of Abbeyfields Close, admits the attack at the four-star Cumberland Hotel in Central London but denies three counts of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Sisters Ohoud Al-Najjar, Khulood Al-Najjar and Fatima Al-Najjar from the United Arab Emirates, were sharing adjoining rooms in the hotel while on a family holiday when they were beaten in a “vicious and sustained” attack and left for dead, prosecutor Simon Mayo QC told the jury.

Spence bludgeoned Ohoud with such force that her skull was split open as her nine-year-old nephew cowered under the sheets next to her.

A paramedic who attended the scene said Ohoud was hit with “incredible force” while a forensic scientific expert concluded that she was hit at least three times after she started bleeding, Mr Mayo added in his opening.

She underwent emergency neurosurgery to reconstruct her skull and her left eyeball had to be removed. She is not expected to make a full recovery.

Mr Mayo said expert forensic pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl found all three suffered life-threatening injuries and it was only through the skill of the surgeons that they each survived.

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Mr Mayo said: “Each women was struck repeatedly to the head by a man wielding a claw hammer - their skulls fracturing and splintering under the onslaught.

“The intention of their attacker, say the prosecution, was to kill them.

“The scene that met the eyes of the police and emergency services as they arrived at the scene in the aftermath was, in the words, of one of those attending, ‘horrific’.”

Spence is alleged to have planned the attack in the early hours of April 6 with Thomas Efremi, 57, from Upper Handa Walk in Islington, north London, who also denies conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Spence was tracked down by police four days after the attack and allegedly told officers: “There ain’t no blood on the hammer, I licked it all off, it went down my mouth.”

He added: “Why are you taking all these DNA samples? I didn’t actually touch their skin.”

He claimed the attacks were carried out by Efremi, but has since admitted he carried them out alone.

The court heard that on the night of the attacks the hotel rooms had been left unlocked to allow a fourth sister to return after visiting family in another room.

Spence crept in and was seen by Khulood riffling through handbags shortly before 1.30am.

He began his attack on her while she shared a bed with her 11-year-old daughter and her sister Fatima, who had arrived just hours earlier.

Khulood’s seven-year-old daughter was sleeping on the floor.

Mr Mayo told the court: “It is almost impossible to imagine the terror that must have seized these poor women as they were confronted in the darkness of their room by Philip Spence wielding that claw hammer.

“Worse still when he began to rain blows down on their heads.”

Fatima desperately tried to stop the attack on her sister but was struck repeatedly on the head by Spence and both women were left unconscious.

It is not known if Spence had already attacked Ohoud or crossed in to her room while her sisters were unconscious.

“But what is clear is that the savagery of the attack on her (Ohoud) appears to have been even greater than that meted out on the other two women,” Mr Mayo said.

“Her skull was smashed so badly that brain tissue protruded from a hole in her head.”

Spence fled the room with a suitcase of valuables and it was not until the fourth sister Sheika Al-Mheiri returned that she discovered her sisters unconscious.

Jurors were shown photographs of the blood-soaked beds and splattered walls.

The hammer was found discarded on a window sill on a stairwell in the hotel.

In the hours after he fled the hotel Spence visited a number of people in London, allegedly in an attempt to sell property he had stolen from the hotel room.

He told friend Emma Moss “I’m in big trouble”.

The court heard she told police he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and added that he “always has a hammer with him”.

The trial continues.

Related link: Alperton man admits hammer attack on three sisters in London hotel