Romanian man is jailed for 18 years after a ‘vicious’ attack and rape of a woman in a cemetery in Exeter

A Romanian man who ‘preyed’ on a lone woman, raping her in a cemetery in Exeter, before destroying the evidence, has been jailed for 18 years.

Cosmin-Nicolae Vasioiu, aged 47, was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court on Friday,  August 11, after a jury found him guilty of rape following a trial in May.

Vasioiu, who was living in the city at the time of the attack in the early hours of Saturday 18 June 2022, is originally from Romania.

He will serve a further five years on extended licence.

Vasioiu denied raping the woman, but his conviction was secured through an overwhelming amount of DNA, phone and CCTV evidence, police said.

Detective Sergeant Samantha Wenham, from Devon and Cornwall Police Major Crime Investigation Team, welcomed the sentencing of Vasioiu.

She said: “He preyed on a lone female who he had never met and subjected her to a vicious attack without remorse.

“He then returned to where he was staying and proceeded to bag up his clothes which he gave to an unwitting friend to wash, before shaving off his long hair in an attempt to change his appearance and destroy evidence linking him to the attack.

“This was a calculated and planned act in which Vasioiu has shown absolutely no remorse throughout.”

CCTV seen by the jury in court showed Vasioiu in Exeter High Street prior to the attack trying to identify possible targets.

Footage also clearly showed Vasioiu following his victim – a woman in her 30s – through the Iron Bridge area of Exeter.

Vasioiu can be seen breaking into a jog to catch up with her as she disappeared from his line of sight; he then attacked and raped her in St Bartholomew’s Cemetery near Exe Street.

Following a major policing response and public appeal, officers arrested Vasioiu on Tuesday, June 21, 2022; three days after the attack.

DS Wenham said: “The response from the public to our appeals was vital in us securing the CCTV footage that was key in us being able to identify and arrest Vasioiu.

“The investigative team went above and beyond to gain the evidence needed to prove beyond any doubt that Vasioiu was the attacker.

“This included numerous international enquiries which led to the team discovering that Vasioiu had a prior conviction in Switzerland that matched up with the attack that took place in Exeter; both in how they were carried out and Vasioiu’s actions post-attack.

“This allowed us to take the rare step of being able to share Vasioiu’s previous bad character and offending history with the jury during the trial, which was vital in securing the conviction.”

It is expected that Vasioiu will serve his sentence in the UK before being deported to Romania.

DS Wenham added: “My team and I want to take a moment to recognise the victim in this case.

“She has been through an horrific ordeal that no person should be subjected to and showed great courage and strength throughout the investigation and criminal justice process.

“She put her faith in us, and I hope the result will help her to move on and contribute to her recovery from this ordeal.”

Superintendent Antony Hart, policing commander for Exeter, said: “No-one should feel unsafe on our streets, and each and every one of us has the right to be able to walk home without the fear of attack.”

“The sentencing reflects the seriousness of the offence and the impact this incident has had on the victim.”

He added: “We will continue to do everything in our power to bring attackers to justice and to prevent further similar offences occurring, both through proactive policing and by working with a range of partner agencies in the city”.

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