A man who brutally stabbed his ex-girlfriend 19 times in a frenzied jealous attack has been jailed for life for her murder.
Genu Armeanu, 45 from east London, was convicted of murdering 44-year-old Elisabeta Lacatusu at the Old Bailey on Wednesday and was immediately sentenced to life, with a minimum of 28 years.
On the evening of January 3 Armeanu lay in wait for his former girlfriend as she returned home to her family in Ilford.
The pair, both from the same village in Romania, met in London in 2015 when Ms Lacatusu’s daughter lived in a shared house where the rent was collected by Armeanu.
Two years later Ms Lacatusu’s family became aware that she had begun a relationship with Armeanu and were not happy so she agreed to end the relationship.
But when she did so, Armeanu bombarded her with text messages threatening to kill himself and her. He then began waiting for her outside the restaurant in Upton Park where she work, forcing her to have to get a lift home with colleagues in order to avoid him.
On the day of Ms Lacatusu’s murder, CCTV showed Armeanu walking up and down Norfolk Road waiting for Ms Lacatusu at about 7pm. As soon as he saw her, he emerged from behind a van and approached her before embarking on what appeared to be a calm conversation.
The footage showed that, without warning, Armeanu pulled a knife from his right-hand jacket pocket and stabbed Ms Lacatusu, who was seen screaming for help and trying to fight him off.
But Armeanu hooked his left arm around her head and neck, preventing her from escaping, and repeatedly stabbed her.
Crime scene: Police in the street in Ilford after the incident (NIGEL HOWARD).
At one point, Ms Lacatusu managed to stumble away, but Armeanu ran after her and held onto her, possibly stabbing her again, before pushing her to the ground. He then calmly walked away.
Officers and London Ambulance Service attended at about 7.10pm and found the victim in the street. She was pronounced dead at the scene six minutes later.
A post-mortem examination revealed that the victim, also known as Alina, had sustained at least 19 stab wounds.
A few hours after the attack, Armeanu sent a text message to a mutual friend admitting he had killed Ms Lacatusu and, in the early hours of January 4, Armeanu was arrested by detectives at an address in Newham on suspicion of murder.
He told a Romanian interpreter at the police station that he knew what he had done and “I did it for love. I found out she had been with someone else".
The aftermath of the incident in Ilford (NIGEL HOWARD )
During his interview, the officers asked Armeanu to tell them about the murder.
He replied: "There is nothing much to tell, just that I love her too much and I couldn't live with the thought that she is away to the other one so then, I've had this thought to kill her, that's all."
Armeanu, of Coleridge Avenue E14, was charged with murder later that same day.
The family of Ms Lacatusu, who was a mother of three and a grandmother to two, paid tribute to her following the trial.
Madalina Lacatusu, her daughter, described her as an “exceptional mother who loved us and she raised us with a lot of love, attention and care”.
"My mother was full of life, happy and energetic. She spent her life bringing me and my sisters Ioana and Elena up.” she said.
"Our lives have changed completely since she is no longer with us. Her death shattered our daily peace and now we just try to survive. I don't really know how I still carry on living.
“I have nightmares, a month after my mother's death I was unable to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time.
"Our entire work as a family starting here from zero and all our dreams of a better life are shattered. We have to start anew, without our mother, without the pillar of our lives."
Detective Sergeant Perry Benton, described the killing as “a violent, wicked and cold-hearted attack on a much-loved mother and grandmother”.
He said: “He has refused to admit his guilt and has put the victim's family through a trial, where some family members have been forced to re-live that horrific day. He has shown absolutely no remorse for his despicable actions. Elisabeta's family are completely devastated.”