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Cumberland Hotel hammer attack ruling: Seriously injured sisters lose case against luxury hotel | UK News

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Three sisters who suffered horrendous injuries when a thief attacked them with a hammer at a luxury hotel in London have lost a High Court action against the owners.

Ohoud, Khaloud and Fatima al Najjar, from Abu Dhabi in the UAE, were staying at the four-star Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch in adjoining rooms when Philip Spence bludgeoned them with a claw hammer.

Spence, who was convicted of three counts of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison, walked into the hotel off the street in April 2014 and managed to reach the seventh floor where he entered the al Najjars’ room through an open door.

The attack left Ohoud with 5% brain capacity and she will need care for the rest of her life, while Khaloud has undergone 20 operations to rebuild her head and face and Fatima is not able to taste or smell and has problems with her memory.

The three took legal action over the hotel’s alleged “haphazard” security but the owners denied liability.

On Friday, a High Court judge ruled that “there was no liability on the part of the Cumberland Hotel to Ohoud, Khaloud and Fatima for the attack carried out by Mr Spence”.

Mr Justice Dingemans, who heard the case in May, said it raised issues about whether a hotel proprietor “owes a duty to guests to take reasonable care to protect against injury caused by the criminal actions of third parties, and if so whether the duty was breached in this case”.

Phil Spence, who was convicted of three counts of attempted murder
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Phil Spence was convicted of three counts of attempted murder

He concluded there was such a duty of care, but based on the facts of the case, there was no breach of that duty.

The judge said the hotel “acted with reasonable care to protect guests at the hotel against injury caused by the criminal acts of third parties”.

Khaloud and Fatima said in a statement after the ruling: “Reliving the horrors of that terrifying night where we almost lost our lives has been extremely traumatic for us to endure and we are devastated that it has all been for nothing.

“We lost our sister and our lives were changed forever when we were attacked by Spence in the privacy of our own room.”

Ohoud Al-Najjar, pictured after the hammer attack
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The attack left Ohoud with 5% brain capacity

They said they felt the decision was “a travesty” and that “justice has not been done”.

The family’s legal representative, Riffat Yaqub, partner at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, said: “We are deeply disappointed by today’s judgement and will be looking at whether there are any grounds for appeal.”

Ohoud Al-Najar, pictured before the hammer attack
Image:
Ohoud al Najar, pictured before the hammer attack

A spokeswoman for the owner of the Cumberland, GLH Hotels, said after the ruling: “We believe today’s judgement is the correct outcome.

“Regardless, the al Najjar family’s experience was deeply shocking and wholly unprecedented and we reiterate our heartfelt concern for their well-being as they continue to receive all necessary support.”

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