A Muslim man was yesterday jailed for 29 years after being found guilty of stabbing a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death after warning her not to work near a mosque.
The Daily Mail reports that Farooq Shah, 21, stabbed Mariana Popa in the chest while riding his bicycle along a stretch of road in Ilford, Essex, known for its sex workers. After being stabbed, Miss Popa staggered into a fast-food shop and collapsed in a pool of blood while her killer cycled away. She was pregnant with her second child.
CCTV footage showed Farooq Shah waiting on the forecourt of a petrol station late on 28 October last year. Miss Popa can be seen walking towards him and speaking to him before he stabs her twice in the chest.
Prosecutors said that Shah had previously warned Miss Popa to leave the area, and decided to kill her when she refused.
Shah claimed that he had been the victim of a mistaken identity, and said he had been at home when the crime happened after having returned drunk and high and from a party.
When he was arrested he was also found with a stolen phone, which he says was sold to him by man on the street.
Jailing Shah for 29 years, judge Christopher Kinch QC said: “It was an utterly terrible attack which inevitably led to her death. It was carried out with callous indifference on a defenceless woman. Mariana Popa did not stand a chance.”
An hour before the stabbing, Shah had also robbed a blind man at knifepoint, taking £400 and his phone.
A bicycle matching the description of the one used by Miss Popa’s killer and the earlier mugger was also found outside Shah’s flat.
Miss Popa’s boyfriend, Nicolae Drezaliu, said in a statement that the two of them had moved to Britain just three weeks before she was killed. They had decided to come to Ilford upon learning that she was pregnant.
Mr Drezaliu said: “Two or three nights she worked until 12.30am and then one time she didn’t come back until 9am – she told me she had slept at friends, there was no reason to be suspicious at the time.
“After she was murdered police told me it was possible she was working as a prostitute on Ilford Lane. I’m still in shock and devastated. Our plans to have a family have been dashed.”