Jurors in London hammer attack case told not to sympathise with Emirati victims

In his summing up, the judge said that 'nothing less than an intention to kill is sufficient'.

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LONDON // Jurors who will decide the fate of the thug who bludgeoned three Emirati sisters with a hammer have been told to put their sympathy for the victims to one side.

In his summing up to the jury at Southwark Crown Court, judge Anthony Leonard, QC, said on Monday that “nothing less than an intention to kill is sufficient”.

“The injuries caused to those three victims of this attack are in any view horrific and it is only natural for you to have sympathy for those three women and, in particular, for Ohoud, whose injuries are most severe,” Judge Leonard said.

But he told them to put their emotions aside when assessing the facts of the case.

“The prosecution must satisfy you of the defendant’s guilt on the charges you are considering beyond reasonable doubt,” the judge said.

“It follows from this direction that if the prosecution fail to make you sure of the defendant’s guilt in the charges you are considering, you must acquit him.

“Nothing less than an intention to kill is sufficient.”

Philip Spence, 33, dealt at least 15 blows with a claw hammer to the women while their children lay sleeping at the four-star Cumberland Hotel, near Marble Arch in central London, early on April 6.

Khuloud Al Najjar, 36, and sisters Ohoud, 34, and Fatima, 31, from Sharjah, suffered fractured skulls in the raid.

Spence, of Alperton in north-west London, admits three counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one count of aggravated burglary.

But he denies three counts of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Judge Leonard said: “Philip Spence is charged on each count with attempted murder. There is only one issue you need to decide in respect of each count. Before you can convict him of that charge, you have to be sure when he attacked Ohoud, for example, he intended to kill her.”

He told jurors to consider the circumstances of the case, including the force used, the amount of blows to each victim and what Spence has said about it. “While it is a factor to take into account, you must be careful not to place too much reliance on the fact that Ohoud suffered. You must distinguish between his intention and the result of the attack,” Judge Leonard said.

“It is not in dispute that the defendant was a drug addict and no doubt he was under the influence of crack cocaine and possibly heroin at the time of the attacks.” But he said that being under the influence of drugs was “no defence in law”.

Spence stole designer handbags, jewellery and iPads from the Emirati women before taking the night bus to Neofitos “Thomas” Efremi’s north London flat. Efremi, 57, denies plotting the horrific armed raid with Spence.

Judge Leonard said: “Efremi’s case was that he had no idea Spence had gone out to steal that night.

“The prosecution do not have to prove that the defendants had any particular premises or timing in mind, only that an intention that Spence would go somewhere sometime to commit aggravated burglary. The fact that either or both was affected by drugs is irrelevant.”

Efremi, of Islington in north London, denies conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. He has admitted to a single charge of fraud relating to 10 withdrawals totalling £5,000 (Dh29,650) using bank cards stolen from Fatima.

James Moss, 33, has admitted to handling stolen goods including mobile phones, handbags and jewellery.