Man, 21, pleads guilty to murdering mother-of-two, 4


Man, 21, pleads guilty to murdering mother-of-two, 45, who was found strangled and ‘beaten to death’ in bushes after being grabbed off the street

  • The body of Maria Rawlings was found in bushes in Little Heath, Romford 
  • Post-mortem examination found she was strangled and suffered head injuries
  • Valentin Lazar admitted today at the Old Bailey to killing Mrs Rawlings in May 










A 21-year-old man today pleaded guilty to murdering a mother of two who he grabbed off the street as she was leaving hospital before strangling and beating her to death.  

Horrifying footage captured the moment Valentin Lazar intercepted 45-year-old Maria Rawlings on a road in Romford, east London, and forced her towards a bush where she was later found dead. 

Today, Lazar admitted to murdering Mrs Rawlings in May during a short Old Bailey hearing attended by her two daughters. 

Mrs Rawlings – who had been receiving treatment for a fall – was followed off a bus and targeted by Lazar because she was a vulnerable woman alone at night, prosecutors said. She suffered multiple injures but there was no evidence of sexual assault. 

At an earlier hearing, the prosecutor, Paul Jarvis, had said: ‘He was probably carrying a knife. He led her into the bushes before violently attacking her and ultimately killing her before stealing some of her belongings and walking off.’

Maria Jane Rawlings (pictured above), 45, from Chelmsford, Essex, was found dead in Little Heath, Romford, by a man who was walking his dog in May

Maria Jane Rawlings (pictured above), 45, from Chelmsford, Essex, was found dead in Little Heath, Romford, by a man who was walking his dog in May 

In the clip, Lazar walks behind Ms Rawlings and quickens his step to catch up with her. When he reaches her, he forces his arm around hers

In the clip, Lazar walks behind Ms Rawlings and quickens his step to catch up with her. When he reaches her, he forces his arm around hers

She resists slightly but he forces her towards the shrubbery on a green near the busy road. Just as they disappear from view a white car drives past

She resists slightly but he forces her towards the shrubbery on a green near the busy road. Just as they disappear from view a white car drives past 

Mrs Rawlings was last seen in King George Hospital in Goodmayes, Ilford, on May 3. 

She left hospital and made her way on foot to Barley Lane in the direction of the A12.

Footage shows a male in dark clothing walking behind Ms Rawlings and quickening his step to catch up with her. When he reaches her, he forces his arm around hers.

She resists slightly but he forces her towards the shrubbery on a green near the busy road. Just as they disappear from view a white car drives past.

Ms Rawlings’ body was found in the bush at 2pm on May 4 by a man out walking his dog.

Family members left heartfelt tributes next to where her body was found.  

A post-mortem examination gave the preliminary cause for her death as neck compression and blunt force head trauma.

Mrs Rawlings’ devastated family left flowers by the bush where her body was found, with a message attached to one bouquet reading: ‘Mummy. I love you now, forever and always. 

‘In this s*** world you made things brighter. Forever my angel. Your big baby.’ 

One note read: ‘I can’t believe this has happened. I love you so much, please be at rest.’

And a touching message from her grandsons read: ‘Nanny, we love you soo much, we will never forget you. Your boys.’ 

Sentencing was adjourned until January 10 next year.  

Detectives believe Mrs Rawlings was attacked after she left King George Hospital

Detectives believe Mrs Rawlings was attacked after she left King George Hospital

Flowers left at Little Health in Romford where Ms Rawlings was found dead. A message attached to one bouquet read: 'Mummy. I love you now, forever and always'

Flowers left at Little Health in Romford where Ms Rawlings was found dead. A message attached to one bouquet read: ‘Mummy. I love you now, forever and always’

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