17 October 2023

Murder accused found woman in ‘bad way’ in cupboard and gave her soup, jury told

17 October 2023

A man accused of torturing and beating a woman to death has told jurors he found her in a “bad way” inside a cupboard and gave her soup.

Shaun Pendlebury is on trial for the murder of 35-year-old Shakira Spencer alongside his girlfriend Ashana Studholme, 38, and their friend Lisa Richardson, 44.

The prosecution allege the “sadistic” defendants scalded Ms Spencer and fed her ketchup sachets after she fell under their “complete control”.

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

It is alleged Ms Spencer died after being subjected to final beatings between September 11 and 12 2022 at Studholme’s home before being moved to her flat and left to rot.

Ms Spencer’s badly decomposed body was found after neighbours saw maggots coming from her flat in Ealing, west London.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Pendlebury, 26, said he had nothing to do with Ms Spencer’s death and had offered to call her an ambulance after finding her in a bad state.

He told jurors he visited her twice last September 13 to take her food and check on her.

The first time, he found her after hearing a noise from a cupboard, he said.

He told jurors: “To me, she seemed in a bad way.

“I asked if she wanted me to call her an ambulance. She said no, no, she’s fine.

I seen Shakira basically motionless on the bed… I left straight away

“I gave her the soup and said I would come back and see her later.”

On his return, he helped her out of the cupboard and to a children’s bed and helped her with the soup because it was too thick for her to drink through a straw, jurors heard.

Pendlebury said he only found out Ms Spencer had died when Studholme, who was her neighbour, called him.

He told jurors he agreed to go and check for himself because he “couldn’t quite believe it”.

He said: “I seen Shakira basically motionless on the bed…

“I left straight away. I went back to Ashana and told her she was correct.”

At a meeting at Richardson’s flat, Studholme was upset and told her boyfriend she “couldn’t go back to jail”, he said.

The defendant told jurors he advised the two women to contact police and say there had been an altercation and an accident.

I decided nobody was making sense of anything. I removed my stuff from the property. I didn't want to be involved in anything

They allegedly responded by telling him he should do it.

In the early hours of last September 16, Pendlebury went back to Ms Spencer’s flat to get his clothes and trainers, jurors were told.

He said: “Earlier that evening I decided nobody was making sense of anything. I removed my stuff from the property. I didn’t want to be involved in anything.”

He told jurors his co-defendants went with him and cleaned the flat.

Defence barrister David Bentley KC asked if he had anything to do with Ms Spencer’s death or events leading to it.

Pendlebury said: “No.”

Pendlebury, of Ealing; Richardson, of Ealing; and Studholme, of Harrow, west London, deny murder and preventing Ms Spencer’s lawful burial.

The trial continues.

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