'Enslaved' mother's harrowing transformation from healthy mum into 'gaunt skeleton' is laid bare, as court hears how she was 'tortured and beaten to death by three sadists'

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:6 min(s) read

  • Shakira Spencer’s body was found last September in her flat in Ealing, London
  • The 35-year-old had been ‘treated like a slave’ and was fed only ketchup sachets 

A mother who was tortured, starved, battered to death and left to rot by three ‘sadistic’ alleged killers died a ‘gaunt and skeletal’ shadow of her former self, a court has been told.

Shakira Spencer was allegedly prostituted, abused and left to die after falling under the influence of former neighbour Ashana Studholme, 38, her lover Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and their friend Lisa Richardson, 44.

The 35-year-old was ‘treated like a slave’, scalded on her feet and fed only ketchup from sachets, the Old Bailey heard, and her body was so badly decomposed that pathologists could not confidently state a singular cause of death.

Prosecutors claim that Studholme, Pendlebury and Richardson ‘tormented, tortured, starved, burned and eventually battered’ Ms Spencer to death for ‘unfathomable, cruel [and] sadistic’ reasons.

She went from being a ‘beautiful, happy, healthy’ and ‘voluptuous’ size 16 to a size six shortly before her death, jurors were told, before her badly decomposed body was found last September after neighbours spotted maggots coming from her Ealing, west London flat.

Shakira Spencer in a photo dated 2012 - years before she was allegedly preyed upon by a trio who are charged with her murder

Shakira Spencer in a photo dated 2012 – years before she was allegedly preyed upon by a trio who are charged with her murder

Ms Spencer, pictured in 2022, was described as 'skin and bone' shortly before her death in September that year

Ms Spencer, pictured in 2022, was described as ‘skin and bone’ shortly before her death in September that year

Pendlebury, Richardson and Studholme are accused of murder and preventing Ms Spencer’s lawful burial. They deny the charges. 

Opening their trial on Monday, prosecutor Allison Hunter KC said: ‘For whatever was their unfathomable, cruel, sadistic motive, these three defendants tormented, tortured, starved, burned and eventually battered Shakira Spencer to death.’

READ MORE: Mother was only fed ketchup sachets as she was enslaved, tortured, burned and beaten to death by three ‘sadistic’ killers, court hears 

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The Old Bailey heard that Ms Spencer was allegedly subdued and dominated, mainly by Studholme and Richardson, to the point she fell under the trio’s ‘complete control’.

It was claimed that the threesome isolated Ms Spencer from everyone she knew, prostituted her, and robbed her of her self-respect and her finances over the course of several months.

She would be woken up in the early hours to clean the defendants’ houses and sent on errands to the shops, the prosecution alleged.

Ms Hunter said: ‘In early 2021 Shakira Spencer had been a healthy – even voluptuous – size 16 weighing some 74kgs (11st 9lb).

‘By July 2022 Shakira Spencer was just skin and bone. Gaunt and skeletal, bruised from head to foot, with hollowed black eyes. She was barely a scrawny size six in images taken by the defendants just before she died.

‘They stole her self-respect, her finances, took over her flat, prostituted her (at least so they claimed), treated her like a slave ordering her wake up in the early hours of the morning to clean their houses, sending her to the shops to do their errands, feeding her only on sachets of ketchup, and then in circumstances of unbelievable depravity, boasted about and on occasion photographed and filmed what they did and were intending to do to her.’ 

The abuse reached a ‘frenzied climax’ on around September 11 and 12 last year when Ms Spencer was beaten ‘to the brink of death’ at Studholme’s home, the jury was told – before she was allegedly driven back to her home to die.

She was bundled into the boot of Pendlebury’s borrowed Honda Civic car and driven back to her flat, where she was locked in a hallway cupboard, it was claimed.

At some stage, Ms Spencer’s body was moved to the bottom of a children’s bunk bed, where she was left to rot, jurors heard.

Ms Hunter said ice was packed around Ms Spencer in a primitive bid to slow decomposition.

Shakira was found dead by police at her home in Hanwell, west London

Shakira was found dead by police at her home in Hanwell, west London

She was found after a neighbour spotted maggots crawling from under her front door on September 25, 2022. Pictured: Hanwell

She was found after a neighbour spotted maggots crawling from under her front door on September 25, 2022. Pictured: Hanwell

Shakira Spencer, 35, (pictured in 2007) who was enslaved, tortured, burned and beaten to death by three 'sadistic' killers, was only found after neighbours saw maggots coming from her flat, a court heard

Shakira Spencer, 35, (pictured in 2007) who was enslaved, tortured, burned and beaten to death by three ‘sadistic’ killers, was only found after neighbours saw maggots coming from her flat, a court heard 

Newspapers were allegedly carefully laid on the floor next to the bed – as if, prosecutors alleged, to suggest Ms Spencer had been reading and died in her sleep.

An alternative plan to dispose of the body in a caravan was abandoned because the defendants could not risk moving her due to the state of decomposition, it was suggested.

Meanwhile, the three defendants allegedly set about removing the victim’s blood, bodily fluids and DNA from their homes as well as all traces of their presence from Ms Spencer’s flat.

The defendants were allegedly captured on CCTV buying cleaning products in the early hours of September 16.

Ms Hunter claims that they used Ms Spencer’s bank cards to buy the materials they had hoped would eradicate any trace of their activities at her home – an act, she said, of ‘particularly callous, inhumane, savage and ironic brutality.’

The prosecutor added: ‘It was only when neighbours saw maggots crawling out from under her door that the police were called to Shakira’s address on Sunday, September 25, 2022 and the painstaking investigation which ensued revealed in detail what they had done.’

A pathologist was unable to identify exactly how Ms Spencer died due to the poor condition of her body.

A post-mortem examination showed ‘crushing injuries’ where her ear would have been, four ‘deficient areas’ in her scalp representing deep lacerations inflicted while she was alive, defects to the bone of her left eye socket and damage to the skin of her feet consistent with scalding. 

The prosecution claims Pendlebury admitted to his mother and uncle that he had been involved in torturing Spencer before her death.

Pendlebury, of Ealing; Richardson, of Ealing; and Studholme, of Harrow, west London, deny the charges against them. The trial continues.




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