Mariana Popa murder: Killer jailed for 29 years
PUBLISHED: 17:17 27 June 2014 | UPDATED: 11:38 28 June 2014
A man who stabbed a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death on Ilford Lane last October has been jailed for at least 29 years.
Farooq Shah, 21, of Station Road, Forest Gate, plunged a knife into Mariana Popa’s heart as she walked along the stretch of road notorious for sex workers.
The 24-year-old had been in the UK just three weeks and was six weeks pregnant when she was attacked on October 28, a court heard.
The mother-of-one staggered into Chicken & Pizza 4U in Ilford Lane and collapsed in a pool of blood as her killer rode away on his bike.
Today at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Christopher Kinch QC jailed Shah for life and ordered he serve at least 29 years behind bars.
The judge said: “It was an utterly terrible attack which inevitably led to her death. It was carried out with callous indifference on a defenceless woman. Mariana Popa did not stand a chance.”
CCTV footage showed Shah waiting on the forecourt of a BP garage close to where prostitutes were working on Ilford Lane late on October 28.
Miss Popa could then be seen to walk towards him and speak to him before he stabbed her twice in the chest.
Shah’s distinctive appearance exactly matched that of the killer - a Muslim man with a shaved head and a bushy beard - but he claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity.
He was found with another stolen mobile when he was arrested for the murder of Miss Popa.
Just an hour before the attack, he carried out a knife-point robbery a short distance away. Today Shah also received a six year sentence to run concurrently with the other jail term.
Det Insp Darren Richards, the investigating officer, said: “Shah has never given any reason or expressed any remorse for killing Mariana.
“He’s given no reason because there was no reason, other than he’d armed himself with a knife and was prepared to use it that night.
“First he threatened a vulnerable man for his phone, then he attacked Mariana, thinking they were alone.
“Fortunately he was caught on camera and we were able to put together his movements and bring him before the courts.
“His callous murder has deprived a young daughter of her mother and a family of their loved one. I hope today’s sentence brings some sense of justice for them.”