By Chris Summers                                              22 January 2024

Three people are facing life in jail after being convicted last month of the murder of Shakira Spencer, whose decomposing body was discovered on a child’s bunk bed after maggots were spotted crawling out from under the front door of her home in west London.

Ashana Studholme, 38, her drug-dealing lover Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and their alcoholic friend Lisa Richardson, 44, will be sentenced in the New Year for the murder of the 35-year-old.

They were also convicted of preventing her lawful burial.

Shakira (pictured above) had been a “beautiful, happy, healthy” size 16 but after months of abuse and neglect at the hand of the trio she shriveled away and was a “gaunt and skeletal” size six at the time of her death.

The jury heard evidence from several children who knew Shakira and the defendants and were exposed to often horrific violence and abuse.

A 12-year-old girl, who was referred to as Witness 4, was questioned sympathetically by a female police officer on a number of occasions and her videotaped interviews were played to the jury during the prosecution case, in September 2023.

Slowly and with great skill, the detective drew out of the girl exactly what she had witnessed and she recounted details of torture and abuse with little recognition of how unusual it was and what hidden psychological trauma she has undergone by witnessing it.

In an interview on October 19, 2022 Witness 4 acted out an assault “Shaun” made on Shakira on September 12, 2022.

Speaking in a broad London accent, Witness 4 said Shaun and Studholme (pictured below), who was known as “Shanti”, were repeatedly throwing boiling hot water on a semi-naked Shakira and then burning her with a lighter-lit air freshener as she screamed “Stop stop, stop!”

Witness 4 said Shakira ended up on the floor. The girl said she asked them to stop it so she could get some sleep.

She said she also saw Shaun hitting Shakira five times on the head with a Magnum tonic wine bottle. She said Shakira had two black eyes and several deep cuts on her head. She said she was not given any medical treatment.

Witness 4 said Shaun and Shanti repeated the burning and scalding of Shakira another night and she could smell a sickening stench of “dead skin”.

She said: “Her skin was falling off.”

The girl said Shanti at one point shouted at a half-naked Shakira to kneel down in the kitchen, made the girl boil a kettle and then threw the scalding water over her.

Lisa Richardson

Witness 4 also said: “Sometimes I think Lisa and Shaun are scared of Shanti.”

The detective tried to glean the motive for the repeated torture and abuse of Shakira.

“Shanti said Shakira is a paedophile who raped her own kid and prostituted herself,” Witness 4 recounted at one point.

The detective asked her if she knew what that meant and Witness 4 said: “That she sold herself for money to men.”

“Shanti said that to you?” asked the detective.

Shaun Pendlebury

“Yes,” she replied, before adding: “Shanti said she (Shakira) was having sex in her bed when her son came in and said ‘Mummy, I’m hungry’.”

The detective asked for more details of the abuse and Witness 4 recalled a time when Shanti dragged Shakira by her hair down the corridor of a flat in Northolt.

“It was really bad,” recalled Witness 4.

The abuse culminated with assaults on Sep. 11 and Sep. 12, 2022 and eventually Shaun and Shanti took Shakira’s dead body back to her flat in Holbeck Road, west Ealing, where they pretended she had died.

Studholme, Pendlebury and Richardson will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on February 8.

Ealing Council says it is carrying out a Safeguarding Adult Review into the case.

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