Published On: Mon, Dec 11th, 2023

Mum-of-two tortured, starved and beaten to death in ‘feral’ campaign by sadistic’ trio | UK | News

A group of three who treated a woman like a slave before torturing, starving and beating her to death have been found guilty of murdering her.

Shakira Spencer, 35, from Harrow in West London was last seen alive by a passer-by after she was driven back to her flat in the boot of a car on the evening of Monday, September 12, 2022 by the group who she had once thought were her friends. The member of the public said she fell from the car unable to walk.

Her body was left to rot in her flat for two weeks after the group had tortured her and was eventually found when neighbours reported maggots crawling under her front door.

Shakira had been a healthy young mother to her two children before she fell under the evil control of her then-neighbour Ashana Studholme, 38, who befriended her before going on to treat her like a slave, dominating and abusing her.

Studholme led a sadistic trio made up by her friend, Lisa Richardson, 44, and former boyfriend, Shaun Pendlebury, 26.

During the trial at the Old Bailey, all three were convicted of taking Ms Spencer’s life and preventing her lawful burial.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter KC, compared them to “a pack of feral savages” after the trial heard they tormented, tortured, starved, burned and battered Shakira to death over a long period of time.

The group ordered her to wake up in the early hours of the morning to run errands and only fed her sachets of tomato ketchup, with Studholme even controlling Shakira’s money.

Ms Hunter told the Old Bailey jury: “Shakira Spencer was clearly viewed as less than human by these three wicked defendants.”

Months of abuse came to a horrifying end once the group had taken her back to her Ealing flat in September last year after their beatings had left her on the brink of death. The group first locked her in a cupboard before then deciding to dump her at the bottom of a bunk bed, it is not known whether she was dead or alive at this point.

The court heard how Studholme had introduced Shakira to a “seedy” social scene and encouraged her go out drinking and take drugs, something she had not done before.

Shakira then broke up with her partner and Studholme began to take advantage of her as she got closer.

She was stopped by police at the end of August who were concerned about her appearance but she said nothing and returned to Pendlebury and the group, who were even found to have received her benefits.

Detective Brian Howie of the Metropolitan Police, who was leading the investigation into the murder, said: “I think she just wanted to be cared for, loved, have a friendship group around her and was just coerced and manipulated over a long period of time by these people.”

He described Studholme as a “cruel, manipulative, coercive individual” concluding “she is just a vile person”, while the court heard she had a history of violence which included a racially aggravated common assault on another female.

Pendlebury had served a jail term for Class A drugs offences, intending to supply heroin and cocaine.

Shakira’s remains were so badly decomposed that an exact cause of death could not be established with prosecutors saying her body “simply wore out”.

The jury deliberated for nearly 18 hours to reach their verdicts, and were excused from jury service for life due to the “harrowing nature” of the case.

The defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

Ealing Council has announced it will carry out a Safeguarding Adult Review into the case.

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