Emirati sisters in hotel hammer attack case face up to five month wait for verdict

Three Emirati sisters are seeking compensation after suffering serious injuries in a hammer attack at a London hotel

Image ©Licensed to i-Images Picture Agency. 07/05/2019. London, United Kingdom. Cumberland Hotel Hammer Attack Court Case.

Ohoud al Najjar and her sisters, Fatima and Khulood suffered devastating injuries when they were attacked with a hammer by Philip Spence whilst staying at the Cumberland Hotel in London. Five years after the attack the sisters are suing hotel owner GLH for allegedly having inadequate security at the West End hotel. Spence was jailed for 27 years for attempted murder. Pictured: A general view of the Royal Courts of Justice in London. 

Picture by Pete Maclaine / i-Images
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Three Emirati sisters who were seriously injured in a hammer attack face a wait of up to five months to discover if their battle for compensation has been successful.

The women suffered serious injuries when they were attacked in their London hotel room by an intruder five years ago.

The two week civil case at the Royal Courts of Justice on London’s Strand ended on Wednesday.

The hearing has been presided over by Mr Justice Dingemans who will now take time to consider his judgment.

Usually judgments are published around 12 weeks after the hearing but due to the courts closing for two months from August, they may have to wait until October.

Fatima, Khulood and Ohoud Al Najjar were attacked by Philip Spence, then 33, who had entered their hotel room on the seventh floor of the Cumberland hotel in order to steal valuables on April 6, 2014.

Spence was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the drug-fuelled, frenzied attack on the women in front of Khulood Al Najjar’s children.

The sisters, who are from Abu Dhabi, are now suing the hotel, owned by Malaysian firm GLH, for compensation.

Their legal team said the building’s security was inadequate in a number of ways, allowing Spence to enter the hotel on the ground floor and make his way directly to a lift unchallenged by security.

He scouted out the fifth and sixth floors before entering the sisters’ room through a door left on the latch.

The claimant’s security expert identified a number of failings which he maintained could have prevented Spence from gaining access to the guest floors of the hotel.

These included no standard for access control to the guest floors, no regular updating or review of security standards or procedures and a lack of risk management reporting.

The court also heard there were failures to install and monitor effective CCTV in common areas and the creation of the “least secure lobby one could consider” during a £85 million (Dh407.3mn) redesign of the hotel in 2004.

Mr Neil Block, for the hotel, said the claimant’s case was based on “might heaped upon might heaped upon might,” rather than factual submissions proving the hotel’s obligation towards the sisters, adding that the attack had been unforeseeable.

He also claimed sisters Sheikha Al Muhairi and Ohoud Al Najjar were guilty of contributory negligence because Sheikha had left the door on the latch at Ohoud’s request when she could not find the keycard for the room.

Earlier in the hearing, Ms Al Muhairi said she left the door on the latch at the behest of her sister Ohoud, who could not find the key.

Since the attack, Khulood has undergone 20 operations to rebuild her face and skull, and Ohoud has been left with severe brain damage and was blinded in one eye.

Meanwhile, Khulood’s daughter Noura, who was 11 at the time needs therapy to help her come to terms with the ordeal.

Two of the sisters, Fatima and Khulood, have been attending the court during the hearing.