Five years ago, three Emirati sisters were attacked in their London hotel room, an incident that left all siblings with permanent injuries. On Tuesday, a lawyer told a London court that the hotel's "lack of security" was to blame.
Fatima, Khulood, and Ohoud Al Najjar were staying at the Cumberland Hotel in London in April 2014 when the violent incident took place. The attacker, identified as Philip Spence, entered the unlocked room as the siblings were asleep. He then used a claw hammer and struck the sisters before stealing a bag with gold, jewelry, and technological devices.
The attacker was sentenced to 27 years in prison following the crime. However, the long-lasting effects of the incident have pushed the sisters to take further action. They are now suing the hotel, which has since been rebranded as the Hard Rock Hotel London.
The London-based hotel has denied any responsibility in the "entirely unpredictable event."
"Who could imagine that somebody would come to the seventh floor in the middle of the night and enter our room?" Fatima, one of the siblings, said.
"In our culture, a hotel is a safe place. But here there was no security. What kind of security allows somebody to enter the hotel and get into the guest area?"
The family's lawyer, Susan Rodway, said the attacker was a "regular intruder" at the hotel. Rodway added that "security failures" pushed the attacker to "target the hotel," as reported by the BBC. During the court hearing, it was voiced that the hotel knew it was "common for Middle Eastern guests to leave doors on the latch" to allow family members to move between rooms. The hotel's owners argued that by leaving the room unlocked, the sisters "voluntarily assumed the obvious risk of allowing anyone to enter the room while they were asleep inside."
A spokesperson for the hotel also added that the room doors were "designed so that guests could not leave them open accidentally."
The hearing will continue on Thursday and is expected to last two weeks.
The hotel has released a statement
At the start of the trial, the hotel released a statement with regards to the incident.
"The Al Najjar sisters have our deepest sympathy for the horrific injuries they received at the hands of Philip Spence whilst staying at our hotel in 2014. His actions were savage and shocking and he is rightfully now serving a 27 year prison sentence for his terrible crime. However, we cannot accept responsibility for his attack which is why we are contesting the Al Najar family’s claim in this trial," the statement, which was sent to StepFeed via email, read.
"We intend to demonstrate that GLH's security was in line with standard procedures at many other busy London hotels at the time. The sad truth is that this unfortunate incident would not have happened if the Al Najjar family had not left their bedroom doors deliberately propped open. Our lawyers will further argue that Mr. Spence's unwarranted attack was an entirely unpredictable event."
"Hotel staff did everything they could to support the Al-Najjar family on the night in question five years ago and subsequently to help secure Mr. Spence's conviction. The hotel reiterates its deepest sympathy, however, cannot be held liable for Spence’s actions and the dreadful injuries the Al Najjar sisters sustained," the statement concluded.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to include the hotel's statement which was sent to StepFeed via email.