Romanian car washer jailed after 'abhorrent' attempted rape of middle-aged woman in Middlesbrough

A Romanian with a string of convictions has been jailed for 16 years for an "abhorrent" attempted rape of a middle-aged woman who was walking to work.

Car washer Cezar Florea, 29, fled back to his home country after the horrific 2014 attack in Middlesbrough, which only ended because a passer-by came to the victim's rescue.

CCTV still issued by Cleveland Police of Cezar Florea in custody, as he was jailed for 16 years for an "abhorrent" attempted rape of a middle-aged woman who was walking to work

CCTV still issued by Cleveland Police of Cezar Florea in custody, as he was jailed for 16 years for an "abhorrent" attempted rape of a middle-aged woman who was walking to work

The victim suffered a broken arm and broken nose and Teesside Crown Court heard how the ordeal changed her from a fun-loving person into someone who felt scared.

In a victim statement, the woman who cannot be identified said: "I can still see his face after what he did to me."

Florea had convictions for robbery dating back to 2006 in Romania, and one, in 2007, for sexual activity with a girl under 16 when he was 18.

By 2014 he was living in Middlesbrough, the court heard.

Cezar Florea

Cezar Florea

Florea had had visited the UK "on and off" for a number of years, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said during sentencing.

The court heard he went out to get drunk and find a prostitute before he preyed on the woman who was walking to work alone at 6am.

After failing to find a sex worker the would-be rapist grabbed the woman, and without saying a word, put his arm over her throat.

He then punched and kicked her repeatedly in a "prolonged and sustained" attack, the judge said.

CCTV still issued by Cleveland Police of Cezar Florea in custody, as he was jailed for 16 years for an "abhorrent" attempted rape of a middle-aged woman who was walking to work.

CCTV still issued by Cleveland Police of Cezar Florea in custody, as he was jailed for 16 years for an "abhorrent" attempted rape of a middle-aged woman who was walking to work.

"It was, by any standard, cowardly.

"You were a fit, strong man taking advantage of a vulnerable middle-aged woman."

The judge said he would have raped her had a man not stepped in to save her, and said the rescuer should receive a £250 reward.

Florea fled Middlesbrough and turned up in London.

Police said they had no idea how he then got back to Romania.

They used a social media campaign to try to trace him after identifying him from CCTV, and were about to bring him back to the UK when he committed another robbery in Romania.

After serving a jail sentence there, he was extradited to face justice in the UK in July.

Judge Bourne-Arton said he must serve 16 years behind bars, with a further six years on extended licence.

Florea admitted attempted rape, robbery and assault at a previous hearing.

The judge said: "She was, before you attacked her, a fun-loving, normal, every day middle-aged woman, as a result of what you did to her, her life has changed.

The judge said her psychological injuries were "catastrophic".

Robert Mochrie, defending, said Florea accepted what he did was "an abhorrent act" and he will have to live with that, like his victim, for the rest of his life.

Florea, appearing via videolink, wanted to apologise to his victim, who was not in court, Mr Mochrie said.

"Cezar Florea accepts he was heavily intoxicated that morning and no doubt he would not have acted in the manner that he did had he been sober," Mr Mochrie said.