Constantin Adrian Marin, 30, said he had just found out that day that his mother was dying in Romania and had been trying to steal money to get back to her.
But his brave victim, who was left scarred by the vicious attack when Marin dragged her into some secluded bushes and kicked her repeatedly, says her life has been changed forever.
“He kept punching me in the face,” the now 29-year-old said in a statement read out in court. “I remember thinking he wasn’t going to stop until I gave up or lost consciousness. I’m not only physically scarred for life but psychologically. What this man has done to me has had such a devastating and detrimental impact on the very person that I am.”
The young woman had been walking home along a quiet pathway between Whitehall Road and Gotts Road in Leeds city centre at about 8.30pm on the evening of March 22. She was approached from behind by Marin who hit her on the side of the head and knocked her to the ground, Leeds Crown Court was told yesterday, August 19, before dragging her by the ankles into some secluded bushes and repeatedly kicking her as she fought back.
“She said she felt like her face had exploded,” said prosecutor Louise Pryke.
The young woman, sociable and outgoing before the attack, said she couldn’t leave her house for days afterwards because she felt too afraid.
“On the night of this attack, when he grabbed my ankles, I honestly thought he was going to rape me,” she said afterwards.
She needed 13 stitches to her eyes and chin, and has since asked for a transfer from work. She left Leeds in May.
“She felt unsafe,” said Ms Pryke. “She’d always been independent. Lacking the courage to leave her own home was a strange and uncomfortable feeling.”
It was his victim’s bravery, in grabbing his leg and pulling off his shoe, which led to police tracing Marin through DNA.
But in the days after the attack Marin fled, prosecutors said, and extradition procedures were started to bring him back before he was caught on the Romanian border in Switzerland.
He admitted his guilt via video link from Armley Jail, sobbing through Friday’s hearing.
“He doen’t seek to justify for one moment his actions,” said defence solicitor Narinder Rathour, adding that Marin had only been in the country for three months before the attack, looking for employment. “He fully appreciates any level of apology would be insufficient.”
Marin had left a small family behind in Romania; a wife and a young child, said Mr Rathour.
“On the day in question, his brother telephoned and told him his mother was terminally ill. He was highly emotional, he wasn’t thinking straight. He is genuinely ashamed.”
The Recorder of Leeds, Peter Collier QC, was told that Marin had been jailed for six years for rape in Romania in 2007.
“This was an attack on a lone woman, at night, in a vulnerable position on a secluded bit of pathway,” he said, sentencing Marin to eight years in jail.
“It was an attack that was prolonged and that has had a significant, ongoing impact on her.”