• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Jury convicts trio in brutal murder of Shakira Spencer

Neighbors in Ealing, discovered Spencer’s severely decomposed remains when they observed maggots emerging from her residence.

Shakira Spencer (Photo: Met Police)

By: Pramod Thomas

THREE people have been convicted for the brutal murder of 35-year-old Shakira Spencer, who suffered prolonged torment and abuse leading to her death.

Ashana Studholme, 38, Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and Lisa Richardson, 44, were found guilty of murder and preventing the lawful burial of Spencer after a 12-week trial at the Old Bailey on Monday (11).

According to reports, Spencer, once a happy and healthy woman, fell victim to the sadistic trio’s control and manipulation.

Over the course of a year, Studholme, described as a “cruel, manipulative, coercive individual,” isolated and subjected Spencer to a campaign of cruelty, humiliation, and physical abuse. The abuse reached a horrifying climax in September 2022, ultimately leading to Spencer’s tragic death.

Shaun Pendlebury, Ashana Studholme and Lisa Richardson (Photo: Met Police)

Detective chief inspector Brian Howie, who led the investigation, said, “My thoughts today, and that of my team, are with Shakira Spencer’s family and friends. During the trial they listened to deeply traumatising evidence of the depraved acts of indescribable cruel torment committed by the three defendants. They murdered Shakira in the most savage and inhumane way imaginable.

“Shakira was a beautiful, happy mother who was kind and had a trusting nature. She could be vulnerable and these defendants took advantage of that by controlling and isolating her from everyone she knew in order to control and enslave her in the most dehumanising and degrading way.

“The family’s ordeal has been compounded by the behaviour of the defendants, who have each lied, providing implausible accounts and explanations to try and absolve themselves of any responsibility. Whatever their cruel and sadistic motives were, there is no acceptable explanation for what Shakira was put through.”

Reports revealed that they regarded Spencer as their servant, instructing her to rise early for tasks, providing only ketchup sachets for sustenance, and allowing Studholme to manage her finances.

Her ordeal was discovered when officers were called to her residence in Ealing on September 25 last year following concerns about her welfare. Her body, badly decomposed, was found two weeks after neighbours reported maggots emerging from her flat.

The trial uncovered the extent of the defendants’ cruelty, with evidence revealing a meticulous timeline of controlling behaviour and violence.

The trio had subjected their victim to beatings, enslavement, coercion, and humiliation. The final assault in September 2022 was described as a frenzied, violent attack that likely led to her death.

In a disturbing turn of events, the killers drove Shakira back to her flat in the boot of a car, locked her in a cupboard, and left her to die. CCTV footage, bank transactions, and mobile phone records played a crucial role in exposing their actions. Messages, images, and videos on their phones also depicted the abuse Spencer endured.

In court, it was revealed that Spencer, who used to be healthy, became very thin and had bruises all over her body. The people on trial completely controlled her, keeping her isolated and taking away her self-respect and money.

The jury, after deliberating for nearly 18 hours, found all three defendants guilty of murder and preventing the lawful burial of Spencer. The judge excused the jurors from further service due to the harrowing nature of the case.

The victim’s cousin, Tashica Loo, expressed the profound impact of her loss, stating, “No amount of time would be enough for what they have done. They have taken someone very special, and what they have done is disgusting and sickening.”

During the trial, it was revealed that Studholme had three prior convictions for assaulting women in Edinburgh and London, along with multiple shoplifting offenses. She had also received a caution for the neglect of a child who fell from a roof while playing in an unsupervised paddling pool.

Pendlebury had previous convictions for drug offenses, handling stolen goods, and assaulting two police officers, while Richardson had a single conviction for cultivating cannabis.

“Evidence presented during the trial proved that Pendlebury, Studholme, and Richardson exercised twisted and sadistic control over Shakira Spencer for an extended period. They concocted a web of lies in an attempt to conceal their actions,” senior Crown prosecutor Devi Kharran was quoted as saying.

Kharran expressed sympathy for the victim’s family and friends, acknowledging the unimaginable suffering she endured. She hoped the conviction would provide some sense of justice for them.

Following the guilty verdicts, Judge Angela Rafferty KC postponed sentencing to a later date.

Meanwhile, the Ealing council has initiated a Safeguarding Adult Review to investigate the circumstances surrounding Spencer’s tragic death.

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