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‘No liability' for Cumberland hotel over hammer attack

24 June 2019 by
‘No liability' for Cumberland hotel over hammer attack

A High Court judge has ruled the Cumberland hotel had no liability to the three sisters who were attacked by a thief with a hammer while they stayed at the property.

Mr Justice Dingemans, who heard the case in May, said in his written judgement on Friday that the case raised issues about whether a hotel proprietor "owes a duty to guests to take reasonable care to protect against injury caused by the criminal actions of third parties, and if so whether the duty was breached in this case".

He found that there was such a duty of care, but on the facts of the case there was no breach of that duty, and concluded that the hotel "acted with reasonable care to protect guests at the hotel against injury caused by the criminal acts of third parties".

Ohoud, Khaloud and Fatima Al-Najjar, from Abu Dhabi in the UAE, were staying in adjoining rooms at the four-star hotel in London's Marble Arch in April 2014 when ‘hotel creeper' Philip Spence bludgeoned them with a claw hammer.

Spence, who was convicted of three counts of attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, walked into the hotel off the street and was able to reach the seventh floor, where he entered the Al-Najjars' room through its open door.

Ohoud was left with 5% brain capacity and will require care for the rest of her life. Khaloud has had 20 operations to rebuild her head and face, and Fatima cannot taste or smell and has problems with her memory.

They brought a legal action over the hotel's allegedly "haphazard" security. During the trial, the family's barrister Susan Rodway QC told the court Spence claimed at his criminal trial that he was a "regular intruder" at the hotel and had even been able to "sleep in maids' cupboards" on occasion. The owners denied liability.

A spokeswoman for GLH Hotels, which owns the property, said after the ruling: "We believe today's judgement is the correct outcome. Regardless, the Al-Najjar family's experience was deeply shocking and wholly unprecedented and we reiterate our heartfelt concern for their well-being as they continue to receive all necessary support."

Khaloud and Fatima Al-Najjar said in a statement: "Reliving the horrors of that terrifying night where we almost lost our lives has been extremely traumatic for us to endure and we are devastated that it has all been for nothing.

"We lost our sister and our lives were changed forever when we were attacked by Spence in the privacy of our own room."

They added that they felt the decision in the case "is a travesty and justice has not been done".

Riffat Yaqub, partner at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, who represents the family, said: "We are deeply disappointed by today's judgment and will be looking at whether there are any grounds for appeal."

The Cumberland relaunched as the Hard Rock Hotel London in April following refurbishment, taking it from 1,000 bedrooms to 900. GLH Hotels owns and operates 17 hotels in London across its Guoman, Amba, Thistle, Hard Rock and Thistle Express brands.

Sisters injured in hammer attack suing hotel over ‘poor security' >>

Sisters who suffered hammer attack at Cumberland hotel to sue >>

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