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Three found guilty of “inhumane” treatment and murder of Shakira Spencer

Three people have been convicted of the brutal murder of Shakira Spencer in West Ealing after detectives showed how the three tormented, tortured, starved, burnt and eventually battered her to death in September 2022.

Ashana Studholme, 38 of Greenhill Road, Harrow; Shaun Pendlebury, 26 of Tewkesbury Road, West Ealing and Lisa Richardson, 44 of Broomcroft Avenue, Northolt, were found guilty of the murder and of preventing the lawful burial of Shakira Spencer at the Old Bailey today (11 December 2023) following a trial lasting 12 weeks.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Howie 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. Shakira 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.

“This was a complex and challenging investigation. A meticulous timeline was created to pull together the different strands of evidence, paralleled against each other, in order to prove the defendants’ campaign of controlling behaviour and violence. This included the retrieval and viewing of thousands of hours of CCTV, extensive forensic examinations, pathology, witness accounts, searching of houses and vehicles and reviewing the defendants’ phones. That examination revealed what Shakira had been subjected to, with footage, messages and voice notes recorded by the defendants themselves that would prove key.”

Officers were called to Holbeck Road in West Ealing at 4:38pm on 25 September 2022 after concerns were raised for the welfare of the woman inside the property.

Police forced entry into the property, and found the body of a woman who was later identified as 35-year-old Shakira Spencer.

At  12:10am, one of Pendlebury’s relatives called police to say that he had confessed to being involved in killing of a women and that Studholme and Richardson were also involved. The trio were arrested just hours later and taken into custody.

Police say Shakira had vulnerabilities but was a happy and healthy woman. She had known the three for some time, in what police say was a complex web of relationships. In just under a year she had fallen under their control which stole her self-respect, her children, and her home as they also took over her finances and controlled her life.

According to police the three subjected Shakira to a prolonged campaign of beatings, enslavement, coercion and control, humiliation and degradation over a period of months.

This culminated in a violent assault between 9 and 12 September 2022. Police say Shakira most likely died on 14 September 2022. Instead of taking her to hospital, Pendlebury and Studholme drove Shakira back to her home in the boot of a car and in a completely unfathomable evil act, bundled her in a cupboard and left her to die.

Officers recovered CCTV footage and bank transactions where the defendants used Shakira’s bank card to purchase a cleaning product and Studholme and Richardson used their own bank cards to purchase items including refuse sacks and gloves, all in an attempt to clean-up the crime scenes and conceal their involvement in the murder.

Their mobile phones were seized, which showed to police what they had done to Shakira. Hundreds of messages were found on their phones talking about their abuse of Shakira. Richardson and Studholme also shared images of a bedraggled Shakira where they mocked her. Videos of Shakira being beaten up while the others laughed and jeered were also discovered.

No date has been set for sentencing of the three.

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