London hammer attack trial halted due to defendant’s ill health

LONDON // The trial of the man who bludgeoned three Emirati sisters with a hammer was suspended on Tuesday when the attacker’s co-accused was taken to hospital.

Philip Spence, 32, was due to resume giving evidence at Southwark crown court.

But the trial was halted for a day when Neofitos “Thomas” Efremi, 57, who has admitted to withdrawing £5,000 (Dh29,314) using bank cards stolen from the sisters, had to be taken to hospital.

Judge Anthony Leonard told jurors: “You will notice that Mr Efremi is not with us in court.

“That is because he has been taken ill this morning and we don’t know at the moment how serious that is, or what will be the effect of it in relation to delay.”

Judge Leonard said it was “clear” that Efremi would not be able to attend court and adjourned the trial until Wednesday.

Spence, from north-west London, has admitted to attacking the sisters but denies trying to murder them while robbing them at the Cumberland Hotel, in Marble Arch on April 6.

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

Spence fled the scene with a stolen suitcase full of items including a white Cartier diamond encrusted watch worth £12,000, and Louis Vuitton jewellery.

Spence had initially denied the attack but later confessed in the face of overwhelming evidence.

He has admitted to one count of aggravated burglary but denies one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Efremi, of Islington, north London, denies conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary but has admitted a single count of fraud.

James Moss, 33, of Stroud Green, north London, has admitted to handling stolen goods including mobile phones, handbags and jewellery.

Moss will be sentenced later.


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