A woman was tortured, starved, battered to death and left to rot by three “sadistic” people, a court has been told.
Shakira Spencer died after allegedly falling under the influence of former neighbour Ashana Studholme, 38, her lover Shaun Pendlebury, 26, and their friend Lisa Richardson, 44.
The 35-year-old was “treated like a slave”, scalded on her feet and fed only ketchup from sachets, the Old Bailey heard.
She went from being a “beautiful, happy, healthy” size 16 to a “gaunt and skeletal” size six shortly before her death, jurors were told.
Her badly decomposed body was found last September after neighbours saw maggots coming from her flat in Ealing, west London.
Pendlebury, Richardson and Studholme are accused of murder and preventing Ms Spencer’s lawful burial.
Opening their trial on Monday, prosecutor Allison Hunter KC said: “For whatever was their unfathomable, cruel, sadistic motive, these three defendants tormented, tortured, starved, burned and eventually battered Shakira Spencer to death.”
After meeting the defendants, Ms Spencer was allegedly subdued and dominated mainly by Studholme and Richardson to the point where she was under all of their “complete control”.
Over a period of months, she was allegedly isolated from everyone she had previously known, prostituted and robbed of her self respect and finances.
She would be woken up in the early hours to clean the defendants’ houses and sent on errands to the shops, it was claimed.
Ms Hunter said: “In early 2021 Shakira Spencer had been a healthy – even voluptuous – size 16 weighing some 74kgs (11st 9lb).
“By July 2022 Shakira Spencer was just skin and bone. Gaunt and skeletal, bruised from head to foot, with hollowed black eyes. She was barely a scrawny size six in images taken by the defendants just before she died.”
The abuse reached a “frenzied climax” on around September 11 and 12 last year when Ms Spencer was beaten “to the brink of death” at Studholme’s home, the jury was told.
She was bundled into the boot of Pendlebury’s borrowed Honda Civic car and driven back to her flat, where she was locked in a hallway cupboard, it was claimed.
At some stage, Ms Spencer’s body was moved to the bottom of a children’s bunk bed, where she was left to rot, jurors heard.
Ms Hunter said ice was packed around Ms Spencer in a primitive bid to slow decomposition.
Newspapers were carefully laid on the floor next to the bed as if Ms Spencer had been reading and died in her sleep, jurors heard.
An alternative plan to dispose of the body in a caravan was abandoned because the defendants could not risk moving her due to the state of decomposition, it was suggested.
Meanwhile, the three defendants allegedly set about removing the victim’s blood, bodily fluids and DNA from their homes as well as all traces of their presence from Ms Spencer’s flat.
Ms Hunter said: “It was only when neighbours saw maggots crawling out from under her door that the police were called to Shakira’s address on Sunday September 25 2022 and the painstaking investigation which ensued revealed in detail what they had done.”
A pathologist was unable to identify exactly how Ms Spencer died due to the poor condition of her body.
A post-mortem examination found crushing injuries to her ear, cuts to her scalp and scalding wounds to her feet, jurors were told.
Pendlebury, of Ealing; Richardson, of Ealing; and Studholme, of Harrow, west London, deny the charges against them and the trial continues.