Severe force used in hammer attack, court hears

Three Emirati sisters who were bludgeoned with a hammer in their London hotel room would have died without urgent medical help, a court has been told.

The hammer used by Philip Spence to batter Khulooud Al Najjar and her sisters Ohoud, 34, and Fatima, 31, in front of their children. Courtesy London’s Metropolitan Police
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LONDON // Three Emirati sisters who were bludgeoned with a hammer in their London hotel room would have died without urgent medical help, a court has been told.

Philip Spence, 32, is accused of battering Khulooud Al Najjar, 36, and her sisters Ohoud, 34, and Fatima, 31, in front of their children. The women all suffered fractured skulls.

“All three suffered potentially life-threatening injuries and … it is only through the prompt expert medical and surgical treatment they received that they survived,” said Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl, a forensic pathologist.

Dr Fegan-Earl said there were no defensive injuries on Ohoud’s body, suggesting she was either asleep when Spence raised his hammer or the first blow knocked her unconscious.

The onslaught was so brutal the victim was left with a hole in her head, exposing her brain to air.

“The fractures were such that the usual contained world which the brain sits in is no longer intact,” Dr Fegan-Earl said. “That can lead to introduction of air and that can allow with it the introduction of bacteria into what is normally a sterile area.”

Ohoud was “deeply unconscious” when she was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.

Her skull was shattered, her teeth and jaw were broken, her eye sockets were fractured and brain matter was visible. She is not expected to make a full recovery.

Fatima suffered three brain injuries, including a blow to the back of her head so hard it pushed the skull into her brain, and a left-side fracture.

She now suffers a deformity of the nose and appeared in court with a large plaster over her face. She also sustained a perforated eardrum and has a damaged facial nerve.

Khuloud’s eye sockets were shattered, her forehead and jaw fractured and a facial nerve damaged.

Jurors heard that she sustained a fracture to her lower left arm where she had tried to protect herself.

The pathologist estimated Fatima suffered at least three blows from the hammer, Khulood a minimum of six blows and Ohoud an “absolute minimum” of four blows.

The level of force was severe he said.

On the evening after the attacks Spence boasted to friend Emma Moss that he had stolen £50,000 of valuables from a hotel room.

He showed no emotion as graphic CT scans of the women’s skulls after surgery were shown to the court on Friday.

Two other men are accused in connection with the attack. Thomas Efremi, 57, has confessed to making 10 withdrawals totalling £5,000 using bank cards stolen from the women. He denies charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Spence has pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent and aggravated burglary, but denies attempted murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

James Moss, 33, has admitted handling stolen goods including mobile phones, handbags and jewellery. He will be sentenced later.

The trial at Southwark Crown Court in London continues on Monday.

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