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Man convicted of vicious attack at the Cumberland Hotel

October 21, 2014, 4:15 pm

A man has been convicted for a vicious attack on three sisters with a claw hammer, as they slept in their London hotel room.

Phillip Spence, from Abbeyfields Close, Harlesden, admitted the attack on the women during a burglary at the Cumberland Hotel in the early hours of 6 April, but denied trying to kill them.

Today, Tuesday, 21 October, at Southwark Crown court, a jury found him guilty of three counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated burglary. He will be sentenced on 18 November at Southwark Crown Court.

Also found guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, was Thomas Efremi, 57, from Upper Handa Walk, Islington. Efremi supplied Spence with the claw hammer and the two men agreed that Spence would steal from hotel bedrooms and they would share in the proceeds.

The court heard that the victims arrived in London from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 3 April, for a family holiday.

On 5 April they went sightseeing before returning to the hotel at around 17:30hrs and retiring to their beds.

At 01:13hrs, Spence entered the hotel lobby and took the lift to the fifth floor, before using the stairs to go up to the seventh floor, where the family were asleep in their shared adjoining rooms.

The door to the corridor of their shared room had been left on the latch to allow a fourth sister to come and go. Spence entered the room and began rifling through a bag which woke Khuloud, 37, who was in bed with her two daughters aged nine and 11.

Spence approached her and demanded money, before repeatedly striking her on the head with the claw hammer until she lost consciousness. Her screams woke her sister Fatima, 31 who tried to stop Spence but he turned his attention to her, striking her until she too was unconscious.

The third sister, Ohoud, 34, asleep in the adjoining room with her nine-year-old nephew, suffered the most brutal attack. Ohoud was hit with such force that her skull was split open and she is never expected to recover from her injuries. She lost part of her brain; she can no longer speak and had to have one eye removed.

Fatima suffered multiple skull fractures and underwent surgery. She also suffered damage to her ear, arm and facial nerves.

Khulood underwent emergency neurosurgery for multiple skull fractures and had surgery. She also suffered a fractured arm and underwent surgery to reconstruct facial bones.

The alarm was raised by the fourth sister who returned to the room to find her sisters gravely injured and nieces and nephew covered in blood. The emergency services arrived shortly after and described a ‘horrendous’ scene.

A forensic pathologist concluded that all three women suffered life-threatening injuries and it was only through prompt medical and surgical treatment that they each survived.

Having left the sisters for dead, Spence stole a suitcase of valuables which included cash, credit cards, mobile phones, watches and iPads.

He left the hotel at 01:36hrs and made his way to Efremi’s address by bus, calling him en route using Khuloud’s phone. Spence arrived at Efremi’s address at about 02:42hrs.

Ten minutes later Efremi left to use the stolen bank cards to withdrawn cash. He took a minicab to a number of cashpoints and made ten withdrawals totaling £5,000.

Later that day Spence was in contact with an associate, James Moss who he took the stolen property to and Efremi used some of the cash he withdrew to make purchases at Vodaphone and Sports Direct store.

Detectives from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command launched an investigation to find those responsible for the attack.

Extensive CCTV work was undertaken and some 330 hours of footage viewed having been seized from 200 separate cameras from the hotel and beyond. The blood-stained hammer Spence used was found on an external window ledge in the 7th floor fire exit stairwell of the hotel. Efremi’s DNA was found on it.

Efremi was arrested on 8 April and his home searched. The brown leather jacket and blazer worn by Spence during the attack were found.

The items were forensically examined and found to contain DNA belonging to Spence, Efremi, Ohoud and Khulood.

Spence was arrested on 10 April and declined to answer any questions during his police interview.

Commander Mak Chishty, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), said:

“I am pleased that today the jury have rejected Phillip Spence’s version of events and convicted him of attempted murder.

He now faces the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence, where he will have plenty of time to think about the consequences of his actions during the early hours of 6 April, at the Cumberland Hotel, when he changed the lives of a family forever.

It is unimaginable the terror they must have felt when they woke to find him in their room.
The level of violence Spence chose to use was extraordinary, and completely unnecessary for him to steal, as he had set out to do that night.

I would like to thank the detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command who worked tirelessly to arrest Spence and secure the evidence needed to bring him to justice today.

Our thoughts remain with the women he injured and nearly killed, and their families. Whilst his conviction will change little for them, it may go some way to helping them deal with the events of that night.

I would like to pay tribute to them and the courage and fortitude they showed in giving evidence to the court and the support they and their representative have shown the MPS during the investigation.

I would like to thank the Abu Dhabi Police who provided crucial assistance and whose officers came to London to assist the investigation team. Their corporation is greatly appreciated and we are grateful that we were able to form with a close working relationship with them.

I would also like to thank the individual UAE Embassy’s and their staff for their ongoing liaison, regular meetings which have helped us to enhance our knowledge of the needs of visiting communities.

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.

London very much remains one of the safest major cities in the world with crime continuing to fall year on year. This financial year to date, overall crime in London is down by 2% and visitor numbers from the UAE have not diminished.

This incident should not deter anyone from visiting London.

+ On 1 October at Southwark Crown Court, James Moss, 33, (5/11/80) Hanley Road,
N4, pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods.

NON ATTRIBUTABLE: Impact statement of Khuloud:

My emotions are still very raw. Everything in my life has changed forever. 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 have also lost my job, as I am now medically retired due to my inability to do my job due to the injuries I suffered.

I am simply not myself anymore. I feel very lonely and have 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. I have a plethora of medication, not to mention the numerous operations I have had. My looks have changed forever; I am not even the same person when I look in the mirror. I have been left without the full use of my left hand, and this is something that will never recover.

Everything I did before the incident has changed. I am now dependant on other people, to help me wash, to drive me to assist me when I walk. I now am fearful of strangers and do not feel comfortable when I am alone. 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. Nora and Fatima cry in their sleep and cannot sleep alone. They cannot even bear to visit their Aunty Ohoud. Yet they do not want to talk about what happened and I am scared they are bottling it all up. The full impact on the children cannot be fully comprehended until they grow up.

Ohoud has lost everything. I recall the moment when I was told she was going to pass away and feeling as though I did not want to live without her. She is now bound to a hospital bed for the rest of her life unable to communicate, to have a family and become the woman she was destined to be.

My sister Fatima and I both feel very strongly about what is considered to be justice for Phillip Spence. I will say that 100 years in prison will not be enough. It means nothing to me that he will be in prison, I want him to feel the pain he has caused us and believe vehemently in an eye for an eye as is the justice in my own country. While I respect the laws of the UK I cannot say I feel justice will be done simply by sending him to prison.

He has never once shown any ounce of remorse; his sole concern has been for himself and to find someway of getting away with what he did. He has never given any explanation for his actions nor taken any responsibility. I will never ever forgive him, and sincerely hope that one day he feels the full burden for what he has done.

I wish to thank the Police and for the investigation they have conducted and also the UAE embassy for the support they have shown my family and I throughout this most difficult of circumstances.

Impact statement of Fatima:

I must say that whatever words I use, I will not be able to explain my full feelings of what happened in our hotel room on 6th April 2014. Everything in my life has changed forever. On that night I lost everything; my way of life.

My sister Ohoud received horrific injuries that from which she will never be able to recover. I remember the day when police officers told me shortly after the incident that Ohoud was dying. She is now confined to a hospital bed for the rest of her life and unable to communicate, eat, see move. She can only squeeze my hand; she is a living dead sister. Seeing Ohoud like this every day breaks my heart.

I was graduated from a university recently and have been working with my company as a Supporting Engineer in the IT Department. I have been with my company for the last 11 years. I have now lost my job, as I am being medically retired due to my inability to do my job due to the injuries I have.

Since the attack, I am full of sadness and in tears a lot of the time. This attack has changed the rest of my life as well all of my family. I have lot of difficulty to sleeping. I am really short tempered with people around me and I have no patience for anyone which I hate and it upsets me. Since the incident I have not spoken to any of my friends and I still do not want to see any of them. I feel isolates and very sad.

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.

It means nothing to me that Phillip Spence he will be in prison. I want him to feel the pain he has caused us and believe that an eye for an eye as is the justice as it is in my own country. I respect the laws of the UK but I cannot say I feel justice will be done simply by sending him to prison.

He has never once shown any remorse. He cannot even admit what he has done. He blames other people for his own mistakes. He has never given any explanation for his actions nor taken any responsibility. I will never ever forgive him, and sincerely hope that one day he will feel the pain that we are in.

I wish to thank the Police and for the investigation they have conducted and also the UAE embassy for the support they have shown my family and I throughout this most difficult of circumstances.

 
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