Man guilty of UK hammer attack gets life sentences

A British man found guilty of attempted murder in a cruel hammer attack on three female tourists from the United Arab Emirates was sentenced Monday to three life sentences and will be jailed for at least 18 years.

Philip Spence carried out the attack on the three women as they slept with their young children at the luxury Cumberland Hotel in London. The 33-year-old had admitted the April 6 attack but denied attempting to kill the women.

The attack and a later assault on an Emirati family in London caused widespread consternation in the Gulf nation, where violent crime is rare.

Prosecutors said the three women arrived in London for a holiday on April 3. They went sightseeing on April 5 and went to bed early that night, only to be woken up when Spence entered their suite in the middle of the night.

When one of the women woke up to find Spence rifling through personal items, he demanded money and then struck her repeatedly on the head with a claw hammer until she became unconscious. He did the same to a second sister and then attacked the third so violently that her skull was split open. She has had part of her brain removed, along with one eye, and can no longer speak.

One of the sisters, Fatima Al-Najjar, told the court in a statement that the attack changed her life forever.

"On that night I lost everything," she said.

She said her sister Ohoud "is now confined to a hospital bed for the rest of her life and unable to communicate, eat, see, move. She can only squeeze my hand; she is a living dead sister."

Spence left the hotel with a suitcase full of items stolen from their rooms.

British police said there was no indication the victims were targeted because of their nationality.