Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Emirati claw hammer attack sisters in fight for compensation

The three women were visiting London in 2014 when they were brutally attacked in their hotel suite

Three Emirati sisters who were brutally attacked with a claw hammer in London five years ago insist justice “has not been served”.

Fatima, Ohoud and Khulood Al Najjar are continuing their fight for compensation after the horrific assault.

The siblings, along with two of Khulood’s children, were staying in the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch in 2014 when Philip Spence entered their room.

Spence, then 33, had a history of sneaking into strangers’ hotel rooms and carrying out violent attacks. He was later jailed for 27 years.

The family is suing GLH hotels, owner of the hotel, claiming the building's security was inadequate. A civil case will begin on May 7.

“Our lives were destroyed in a few minutes – our health, our family life, our social life. Everything was taken away from us,” Khulood told The National.

“We continue to need medical treatment but there are things that no operation can fix.”

Since the attack, Khulood, who was confined to a wheelchair for a year, has had 20 operations to help rebuild her face and skull.

She suffered 30 fractures during the frenzied assault and was left with a gaping hole in her right cheek.

Spence, the criminal trial heard, used both sides of a claw hammer to rain down blows on the women.

He continued to strike Ohoud after she was unconscious, leaving her with just one eye, a smashed jaw and severe brain damage. Today she cannot express herself to show if she is in pain.

Meanwhile, Khulood’s daughter Noura, who was 11 at the time and identified Spence to authorities, needs therapy.

All of the group, from Abu Dhabi, still have trouble sleeping as they are haunted by their memories of the ordeal.

“We’ve received our justice from Spence but what about the hotel whose responsibility it was to keep us safe?” Khulood asked.

“We can’t bring back Ohoud’s brain or her eye - we can’t take back the trauma that day has caused

Khulood Al Najjar

“Where were their security personnel and procedures when that criminal walked in from the streets, climbed up to the seventh floor and attacked us?

“I don’t want what happened to us to happen to any other person in the world.”

During his trial in October 2014 for three counts of attempted murder, the court heard how Spence fled the scene with a stolen suitcase stuffed with valuables.

He took a diamond-encrusted Cartier watch worth £12,000, a yellow gold Rolex, iPads and Louis Vuitton jewellery.

Spence was initially jailed for a minimum of 18 years but appeal judges later increased the sentence to 27 years.

Since the attack, all three sisters have lost their government jobs and no longer work. Their medical bills have been paid by the UAE government.

The hotel group has refused to accept responsibility for the incident, partly because the women had left their door ajar.

“Yes, we left our door unlocked for a few minutes but our attacker came from outside the hotel,” Khulood said.

“Where were the security watchmen when he entered and went up the elevator? We didn’t even get an apology from the hotel.

“We can’t bring back Ohoud’s brain or her eye. We can’t take back the trauma that day has caused.

“We have suffered for five years and continue to suffer. We want justice.”

Updated: May 3, 2019 09:53 AM

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