A woman was tortured, starved and battered to death by her lover, friend and former neighbour – who all left her body to rot, a court has heard.
Shakira Spencer, 35, was ‘treated like a slave’ by the ‘sadistic’ trio, who forced her to survive on sachets of ketchup, jurors have been told.
Ms Spencer was a ‘beautiful, happy, healthy’ size 16 in early 2021 but by July 2022 she was a ‘gaunt and skeletal’ size six.
She is thought to have died exactly a year ago on September 11 or 12 last year after falling under the ‘complete control’ of her former neighbour, Ashana Studholme, 38; her partner, Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and the couple’s friend, Lisa Richardson, 44.
Her body was discovered on September 25 after neighbours noticed maggots crawling out of her flat in Ealing, west London, the Old Bailey heard.
Over a period of months, she is said to have been isolated from loved ones and forced into prostitution.
Opening the case for the prosecution on Monday, Allison Hunter KC told the court: ‘For whatever was their unfathomable, cruel, sadistic motive, these three defendants tormented, tortured, starved, burned and eventually battered Shakira Spencer to death.’
Describing the dramatic physical changes Ms Spencer suffered, Ms Hunter said: ‘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.’
On the night she died, Ms Spencer was ‘beaten to the brink of death’ at Studholme’s home, jurors heard.
She was then bundled into the boot of a Honda Civic car on loan to Pendlebury before being driven to her flat and locked in a hallway cupboard, it is alleged.
Her body was later moved to the bottom of a children’s bunk bed and left to rot, jurors heard.
Ice was packed around the corpse in a primitive bid to slow down decomposition.
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, the prosecution allege.
A pathologist was unable to determine how Ms Spencer died due to the poor condition of her body.
A post-mortem examination found crushing injuries to her ear, cuts to her scalp and scalding wounds to her feet, jurors were told.
Pendlebury, of Ealing; Richardson, of Ealing; and Studholme, of Harrow, northwest London, deny murder and preventing Ms Spencer’s lawful burial.
The trial continues.
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