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Three jailed for murder of woman who was starved, tortured and battered to death

Three people have been jailed for murdering a vulnerable woman they “treated like a slave” – by starving, torturing and beating her.

Ashana Studholme, 39, Studholme’s lover Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and their friend Lisa Richardson, 45, were handed life sentences with a minimum term of 34 years each for killing Shakira Spencer and preventing her lawful burial.

The trio were previously found guilty of killing the 35-year-old in December.

They beat and tortured Ms Spencer, including scalding her feet and feeding her only ketchup from sachets.

Lisa Richardson, Shaun Pendlebury and Ashana Studholme
Pic: Met Police
Image: Lisa Richardson, Shaun Pendlebury and Ashana Studholme. Pic: Met Police

Her badly decomposed body was found in September 2022 after neighbours saw maggots coming from her flat in Ealing, west London.

Ms Spencer had fallen under the influence of her former neighbour Studholme, and was subjected to “dehumanising and degrading” treatment by the group.

The court heard the defendants, from west London, subdued and dominated Ms Spencer to the point that she was under their “complete control”.

She was isolated, prostituted and robbed of her self-respect and finances over many months, jurors were told.

She went from being a “beautiful, happy, healthy” size 16 to a “gaunt and skeletal” size six shortly before her death.

 Shakira Spencer, pictured in 2007, who was found dead in Ealing, west London on Sunday, 25 September
Image: Shakira Spencer in 2007. Pic: PA

Beaten ‘to the brink of death’

The mobile phones of the accused were seized, with hundreds of messages found referencing the abuse they had subjected Ms Spencer to.

Richardson and Studholme exchanged images mocking her, and videos of Ms Spencer being beaten up while the others laughed and jeered were also discovered.

The abuse reached a “frenzied climax” in September 2022 when Ms Spencer was beaten “to the brink of death” at Studholme’s home.

She was bundled into the boot of a borrowed car and driven back to her flat, where she was locked in a hallway cupboard.

As part of the attempted cover-up, newspapers were then carefully laid on the floor next to the bed as if Ms Spencer had been reading and died in her sleep.

The defendants also cleaned the victim’s blood, bodily fluids and DNA from their homes and removed all traces of their presence from Ms Spencer’s flat.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter KC said during the trial: “For whatever was their unfathomable, cruel, sadistic motive, these three defendants tormented, tortured, starved, burned and eventually battered Shakira Spencer to death.”

Jurors had deliberated for nearly 18 hours to reach their verdicts in December and were excused by the judge from further jury service for life due to the “harrowing nature” of Ms Spencer’s case.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Howie, previously said: “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.”

Sky News Source