London: Philip Spence, accused of bludgeoning three Emirati sisters with a hammer in a luxury hotel in London, on Monday wept in court and admitted to having a “temper”.

Spence, 32, dealt at least 13 blows to the women in front of their children at the Cumberland Hotel. Khulood Al Najjar, 36, and her sisters, Ohoud, 34, and Fatima, 31, suffered fractured skulls and life-threatening injuries in the April 6 attack.

Spence took to the witness box at Southwark Crown Court and dabbed his eyes while telling jurors he had never received help for his anger management issues.

He first visited the Cumberland Hotel when he was just 13 years old and would take the elevator to the roof with his friends to “look at Oxford Street” and play around. “You would walk through the front door and just go upstairs in the lift,” he said.

When he became homeless, he would regularly use the hotel for “somewhere to eat and sleep” by crashing in the maid’s cleaning closets and scavenging for food from trays left outside rooms.

Speaking very softly, Spence said his father had died in 2000 following an injury that disabled him. He was about 19 years old when his descent into drugs began with cannabis, leading him to become addicted to crack and heroin. Spence said he supported his habits through money from unemployment benefit and stealing until he was arrested and attended a rehab clinic. When asked about the convictions he had received for assault he replied, “I have a temper”.

“Is that something you have tried to deal with?” asked his lawyer William Nash. “I have tried, I couldn’t get any assistance,” Spence replied.

After a six-year dry spell, homeless Spence relapsed into using crack and heroin in 2012.

At the time of the attack he was in debt to dealers and told jurors he was scared, trying to make up the debt and had been stabbed.

Expelled from school

Born in Islington, north London to an Italian mother and Jamaican father, Spence was expelled from school at just eight for sexual abuse.  He later attended Northampton Residential School but left with no qualifications and went to live in a hostel. Spence admitted to three counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one count of aggravated burglary. But he denied three counts of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Co-defendant Neofitos ‘Thomas’ Efremi, 57, has confessed to making 10 withdrawals totalling £5,000 using stolen bank cards after Spence took the stolen credit cards to him after brutalising the women.


 The writer is a journalist based in London.