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Ohoud Al Najjar (inset, right) was attacked by Philip Spence (inset) in her London hotel room.

PHOTO BY ARCHIVE


London hotel ‘at fault’ in Emirati sisters’ hammer attack case, says lawyer

 

DUBAI – The lawyer of three Emirati sisters—who were badly injured after a thief attacked them in a hammer in their London hotel room—told a court that lack of hotel security was also to blame for the vicious attack.

The family of Fatima, Khulood and Ohoud Al Najjar is seeking compensation from Cumberland Hotel, now Hard Rock Hotel London, for the violent attack on the sisters in the 2014 incident.

The court had earlier sentenced the attacker, Philip Spence, to 27 years in jail after he crept into the seventh floor hotel room and used a claw hammer to attack the sleeping sisters. He left with a bag stuffed with gold, jewellery and gadgets. Ohoud was left brain damaged after the attack.

At the start of a civil case against the hotel on Tuesday, lawyer Susan Rodway had described the attack as “very distressing”.

Rodway said the hotel lacked appropriate security measures, including out-of-date security practices, and ineffective CCTV in common areas.

The lawyer said that a review of footage from the hotel showed that the assailant had made his way to an elevator without being checked by security guards and had access to the fifth and sixth floors before entering the sisters’ hotel room.

The hotel has denied responsibility for what it called an “entirely unpredictable event” and blamed the Al Najjar family for allegedly leaving the bedroom doors “deliberately propped open”.

In a statement emailed to Expatmedia.net, the hotel management, however, expressed its “deepest sympathy” to the Al Najjar sisters.

“The Al Najjar sisters have our deepest sympathy for the horrific injuries they received at the hands of Philip Spence while staying at our hotel in 2014. His actions were savage and shocking and he is rightfully now serving a 27 year prison sentence for his terrible crime. However we cannot accept responsibility for his attack which is why we are contesting the Al Najjar family’s claim in this trial,” the statement read.

“We intend to demonstrate that GLH’s security was in line with standard procedures at many other busy London hotels at the time. The sad truth is that this unfortunate incident would not have happened if the Al Najjar family had not left their bedroom doors deliberately propped open. Our lawyers will further argue that Mr Spence’s unwarranted attack was an entirely unpredictable event.

“Hotel staff did everything they could to support the Al Najjar family on the night in question five years ago and subsequently to help secure Mr Spence’s conviction. The hotel reiterates its deepest sympathy, however, cannot be held liable for Spence’s actions and the dreadful injuries the Al Najjar sisters sustained,” the hotel management said in a statement.

The hearing resumes on Thursday, with witnesses to give their testimony. GAD/Expat Media

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