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Cruel trio who murdered enslaved mother they fed only sachets of ketchup are jailed

Three sadistic killers who tortured, starved and battered to death a mother fed only ketchup sachets have each been jailed for life.

Ashana Studholme, 38, her lover Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and their friend Lisa Richardson, 44, inflicted “an orgy of violence” on vulnerable Shakira Spencer in a “sadistic campaign” that ended with her dying in a cupboard in her flat in Ealing, in west London.

The 35-year-old fell under the influence of the trio, and would be woken up in the early hours to clean their homes or be sent on errands to the shops over many months in which she was isolated and robbed of her money.

They also scalded Ms Spencer’s feet and fed her own ketchup from sachets.

Ashana Studholme, Shaun Pendlebury and Lisa Richardson have been sentenced for the murder of Shakira Spencer at The Old Bailey (Metropolitan Police)
Ashana Studholme, Shaun Pendlebury and Lisa Richardson have been sentenced for the murder of Shakira Spencer at The Old Bailey (Metropolitan Police)

The defendants were all convicted of murder and preventing Ms Spencer a lawful burial after trial last year.

On Friday at the Old Bailey, Studholme, of Greenhill Road, Harrow; Pendlebury, of Tewkesbury Road, Ealing, and Richardson, of Broomcroft Avenue, Ealing, were all jailed for life with a minimum term of 34 years.

Judge Angela Rafferty KC, said desrcribed the treatment of Ms Spencer as an “orgy of violence”, adding: “This was a sadistic campaign in which you all took pleasure in inflicting pain and suffering on a vulnerable woman.”

Ms Spencer was once described as a “beautiful, happy, healthy” woman, but after months of torture at the hands of the trio she became “skeletal”, going from a size 16 dress size to a six.

Shakira Spencer, pictured in 2007, before the trio took control of her, leading to her death in 2022 (PA Media)
Shakira Spencer, pictured in 2007, before the trio took control of her, leading to her death in 2022 (PA Media)
Ms Spencer dropped from a dress size 16 to a size six as the trio starved her (PA)
Ms Spencer dropped from a dress size 16 to a size six as the trio starved her (PA)

The Met Police said she had known the three for some time through a complex web of relationships, but in just under a year she had fallen under their complete control.

They stole her self-respect, her children, and her home, took over her finances and controlled her life.

Her shocking treatment came to a climax when she was beaten in a “frenzied, violent assault” between 9 and 12 September 2022. The trial heard how Pendlebury and Studholme then took her to her home where she was left to die in cupboard less than a week later.

Her death was only discovered when neighbours saw maggots coming from her flat and her badly decomposed body was found.

As part of their bid to cover their tracks, Studholme was caught on CCTV buying cleaning product to clean up the crime scenes (Met Police)
As part of their bid to cover their tracks, Studholme was caught on CCTV buying cleaning product to clean up the crime scenes (Met Police)

CCTV recovered by police showed the defendants using their victim’s credit card to purchase cleaning product in an attempt to clean up the crime scenes and remove evidence linking them to her.

While messages found on the defendants’ phones included videos of Ms Spencer being beaten up, while others laughed and jeered.

Ms Spencer’s last journey, in the boot of a car driven by Pendlebury and Studholme to her home where she died (Met Police)
Ms Spencer’s last journey, in the boot of a car driven by Pendlebury and Studholme to her home where she died (Met Police)

Ms Spencer’s son described the trio who killed his mother as “cruel and evil” in an impact statement read out to Friday’s hearing.

The individual, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I’ve suffered with daily nightmares and anxiety over what happened to her, I cannot get the horrible image of my mother looking skinny and unwell out of my head.

Among the last known public sightings of Shakira Spencer, seen slowly crossing a road around the time of the assault which killed her (Met Police)
Among the last known public sightings of Shakira Spencer, seen slowly crossing a road around the time of the assault which killed her (Met Police)

“Why were they (the defendants) so heartless? What could cause them to torture another human? I hope that every day they feel bad for the choices they have made.

“I cannot believe people she thought were her friends would ever do this to her. These people are cruel and evil, they do not deserve to live a normal happy life again.”

The son also paid tribute to his mother, describing her as “the best” and saying he missed her every day.

He added: “I never got to say goodbye to her, or to tell her that I loved her – these people let her die alone with her feeling she was unloved, as they had taken everybody away from her.”

Senior crown prosecutor Devi Kharran said Ms Spencer’s suffering was “simply unimaginable”.

He said: “Evidence presented during the trial proved that Pendlebury, Studholme and Richardson exercised twisted and sadistic control of Shakira Spencer over an extended period.

“Our thoughts remain with all of Shakira’s family and friends. I hope this conviction brings them some sense of justice.”