Killer who targeted lone mother as she travelled home on London bus admits murder

·2-min read
Maria Rawlings was killed by Valentin Lazar in May  (PA)
Maria Rawlings was killed by Valentin Lazar in May (PA)

A man who killed a lone woman he had met on a late-night bus before leaving her body in the undergrowth has admitted murder.

Valentin Lazar, 20, attacked 45-year-old mother-of-two Maria Rawlings after they had met on the EL3 bus in Romford just after 11pm on May 3 last year.

Ms Rawlings had been on the bus for around ten minutes before it terminated, and she alighted along with Lazar who is believed to have been carrying a knife.

CCTV showed the killer guiding his victim towards a nearby patch of shrubbery where her naked body was found by a dog walker the following day.

He was caught on camera leaving with Ms Rawlings’ handbag, and had left behind a baseball cap with his DNA at the scene.

Ms Rawlings, a vulnerable woman, had attended A&E in Ilford on the night of her murder, but left before she received treatment for injuries suffered in a fall.

Police obtained CCTV which was able to track her movements from the hospital, discovering that she came across Lazar on her journey home.

“He led her into the bushes before violently attacking her and ultimately killing her before stealing some of her belongings and walking off”, said prosecutor Paul Jarvis.

When Ms Rawlings was found dead the following day, she had multiple injuries to her mouth, chest, and knee, and had suffered 13 fractured ribs. It is also believed she had been stabbed.

At the Old Bailey on Friday morning, Lazar pleaded guilty to murder and now faces life in jail when he is sentencing on a later date.

The killer was seen on CCTV leaving the undergrowth alone around 30 minutes after he had entered with Ms Rawlings.

Carrying the victim’s handbag, he was then seen boarding another bus towards Dagenham.

Lazar was caught after media reports of the killing, when a social media user identified Lazar and alerted police.

“Maria Rawlings was a vulnerable woman. She had attended A&E on the night of her murder, but tragically left before she was seen”, said Emma Currie, from the CPS.

“The prosecution case included DNA and footprint evidence as well as CCTV footage which caught Lazar leaving with the handbag Ms Rawlings had been wearing earlier that evening. He had also left behind the baseball cap he had been wearing previously at the scene of the murder.

“Valentin Lazar is a violent man who has shown little remorse for his actions. When initially arrested he even claimed to suffer from memory loss, saying ‘I can’t remember what happened yesterday’.

“Women should be free to travel through London without fearing violent attacks. The CPS is committed to bringing offenders to justice in respect of violence against women and girls. I hope this conviction provides some sense of justice for the family and friends of Ms Rawlings. Our thoughts remain with them at this time.”

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