Advertisement

Jealous ex-husband found guilty of murdering former wife by setting her alight

Georgian Constantin murdered his ex-wife Valentina Cozma at her home in Stoke-on-Trent.

 Georgian Constantin murdered his ex-wife Valentina Cozma. (SWNS)
Georgian Constantin murdered his ex-wife Valentina Cozma. (SWNS)

A jealous ex-husband is facing life in jail after being found guilty of murdering his former wife by setting her on fire.

The body of Valentina Cozma, 40, was discovered by fire crews at her home in Stoke-on-Trent, on 9 February.

Police launched a search for her ex-husband Georgian Constantin, 42, after he admitted attacking her in a Facebook post he later deleted.

He was arrested 150 miles away at an address in London five days later and charged with Valentina's murder.

On Thursday, Constantin was found guilty of the charge following a trial at Stafford Crown Court.

He was also convicted of making threats to kill Ms Cozma's new boyfriend after he used her phone to tell him he'd "sorted her out and was coming for him."

Constantin, of Stoke-on-Trent, will be sentenced on 31 October.

The court was told Constantin had arranged to meet Ms Cozma at her house under the pretence of repaying £500.

She had lent him the money in order to allow him to move out of the family home a month earlier.

But at around 3pm, neighbours and passers-by reported hearing screams from the house and called emergency services.

Victim Valentina Cozma. (SWNS)
Victim Valentina Cozma. (SWNS)

The kitchen was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and when the blaze was finally brought under control,

Ms Cozma's body was discovered below the back window in the middle room.

She was pronounced dead at the scene and a post mortem later established she had died due to the effects of fire.

Detectives found a plastic bottle in the back yard containing petrol and the bottle cap was found to contain DNA that matched Constantin.

Recommended reading

CCTV captured him purchasing a green plastic jerry can, filling it up with petrol and paying for it at Sainsbury’s petrol station - even though he didn't have a car.

Constantin went into two shops in Hanley to try to sell his laptop saying he "needed money" on the day of the murder.

The shops declined to buy it and this same laptop was found at the scene near to Valentina’s body.

Further CCTV footage showed Constantin outside Ms Cozma's house again at 2.32pm, just minutes before the fire.

'A son has been left without a mother'

Detective Inspector Adrian Webb, of Staffordshire Police, said after the case: “Valentina worked tirelessly to attempt to make a better life for her son.

"I can’t imagine how her murder, when he was just 16, has impacted on him.

“Georgian Constantin’s cruel, self-pitying and cowardly act has left a son without a mother and a father jailed for murder.

"Valentina sought a happier life and Constantin made sure that was never going to happen.

“Constantin murdered his ex-wife by setting her on fire. He made no attempt to assist her or seek help.

"Instead, he threatened to kill Valentina’s new partner before running off to London.

"He thought he could use false details, dispose of phones and hide on the streets of London after murdering his ex-wife.

"He underestimated our determination to seek justice for Valentina.

He added: “Valentina never had a voice in this trial but her family and friends described a her as a loving, hard-working mother who was ‘looking forward to the future’.

“They said she tried her best to help and support her ex-husband who gambled away the family’s money.”

Georgian Constantin will be sentenced on 31 October. (SWNS)
A manhunt was launched to find Georgian Constantin. (SWNS)

How to get help and recognise the signs of domestic abuse

Victims of domestic abuse can find information on where to seek help on the gov.uk website. Support includes guidance on recognising what domestic abuse may look like, helplines and how to access safe spaces.

According to gov.uk, recognising domestic abuse includes looking for indicators that your partner, ex-partner or someone you live with:

  • cuts you off from family and friends and intentionally isolate you?

  • bullies, threatens, or controls you?

  • takes control of your finances?

  • monitors or limits your use of technology?

  • physically and/or sexually abuses you?

Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It can also include:

  • coercive control and ‘gaslighting’

  • economic abuse

  • online abuse

  • threats and intimidation

  • emotional abuse

  • sexual abuse

If you are concerned you may be experiencing domestic abuse, you can contact Refuge's National Domestic Abuse Helpline in England on 0808 2000 247; the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline in Northern Ireland on 0808 802 1414; the Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline in Scotland on 0800 027 1234; and Live Fear Free in Wales on 0808 80 10 800.

There is also a dedicated service for male victims of domestic abuse: The Men's Advice Line run by Respect on 0808 801 032.