Wellingborough Sex Attacker Convicted
A construction worker who subjected a woman to a violent sexual assault before beating her and leaving her for dead has today been convicted of rape and attempted murder.
Sergiu Boianjiu, from Northamptonshire, attacked his victim as she walked home from a night out in Wellingborough in February this year. As part of a sustained attack, he beat her unconscious and dragged her into an alleyway where he raped her. He then stamped on her head and, after trying unsuccessfully to put her in a wheelie bin, left her for dead. A passer-by found the victim a few hours later, critically injured and in a state of undress.
As soon as the victim was discovered, a major police investigation was launched. Sergiu Boianjiu, who is originally from Moldova, was identified as a suspect from CCTV evidence, tracing his movements back to a local night club. Earlier that evening, Boianjiu had been thrown out of the club after groping women and pestering them for sex. He remained outside the premises for over an hour, continuing to pester young women. As the victim left the club at closing time, Boianjiu lay in wait for her and, once she was alone, attacked her.
The investigation uncovered CCTV that showed the attack taking place from a distance. However, there was limited forensic evidence that Sergiu Boianjiu had raped the victim. After an early and detailed consultation between the CPS and Northamptonshire police, the CPS authorised charges of rape and attempted murder. The two agencies worked alongside each other to build a strong case against him, meeting regularly to ensure that the evidence was presented in the most compelling way to the jury. Boianjiu was tried at Northampton Crown Court and was today found guilty of attempted murder and rape.
Liz Fell from the CPS said: “This was a horrific and sustained attack perpetrated by an incredibly dangerous individual. Sergiu Boianjiu was determined that he was going to get what he wanted and showed no sign of caring how he went about it.
“It is only down to incredible fortune that the victim survived. Getting justice for her has involved a close working relationship between the police and CPS as we considered every possible aspect of the events of that night to piece together a clear picture of what happened. We have left no stone unturned, and explored every possible legal avenue to ensure that this defendant faces the consequences of his cold, brutal actions. Keeping the victim informed was also of paramount importance to the CPS, and we worked closely with the police to ensure that her experience was a real focus throughout.
“There is no question that the evidence in this case has been a challenge, both in its traumatic content and legal complexity. It was extremely important for us as an investigation and prosecution team, to work together to bring this case to this conclusion both for the victim of the attack, the community, and the safety of the wider public as a whole. The CPS cares passionately about victims of crime and we are delighted that justice has been secured for the victim.”
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Liz Wilcox, said: “Sergiu Boianjiu presents a real risk to the women in our communities.
“Getting justice for this young woman was hugely important to all of us and we are therefore very pleased, as a team, to see the jury come back with the this today.
"This case will remain in many of the minds of those who worked on it long after today, not least that of the young woman subjected to this abhorrent crime who has shown incredible bravery. I hope she finds some comfort in today’s verdict."
Sergiu Boianjiu will be sentenced at a later date.
Building the case:
The investigation in this case clearly pointed to a sexually motivated attack and an attempt to kill the victim to ensure she could not identify her attacker.
Sergiu Boianjiu was identified as the attacker by CCTV evidence. Once the victim’s coat was found in a shop doorway, CCTV showed him disposing of the coat. CCTV was then traced back to show that he had been at the same night club as the victim and that he had lain in wait and followed her when she left the venue. Further CCTV was found of him trying to dispose of more of the victim’s belongings.
He was arrested travelling in a friend’s car with his belongings and clothing, some of which were still damp from having been through a washing machine. This was used as evidence that he was attempting to flee the locality and avoid facing justice for the serious offences he had committed.
In order to prove offences of rape and attempted murder to a criminal standard, there are a number of steps for the CPS to take. While the defendant admitted that he had assaulted the victim and attempted to rape her, he did not accept that he had tried to kill her, nor that he was successful in his rape attempts.
At trial, the defendant’s guilty pleas to lesser offences and his lack of comment in police interviews were put to the jury as evidence that he had created an untrue story based on the evidence against him. It was suggested that rather than the truth of what happened, this was an effort to limit the criminal consequences of his actions. The CPS position was clear – that he had raped the victim and attempted to kill her to prevent her identifying him.
When charging any case, particularly one as complex and challenging as this, CPS lawyers must work through all of the evidence from the investigation and determine what can be used as evidence at a potential trial, what further evidence could be obtained to assist the case and what should remain unused and potentially disclosed to the defence. This task was made significantly easier by the detailed nature of the investigation carried out by Northamptonshire police during the first few days after the attack. This created a clear picture of the events of that night, allowing the CPS to allocate a rape specialist lawyer to the case immediately and enabling that lawyer to grip the issues of the case quickly and focus on the legal strategy for the case. This helped us to make an early charging decision on the evidence available at that stage.
Unlike many prosecutions for rape, this was not about proving consent, but whether sexual intercourse had taken place. The victim had no recollection of the attack and there was at first no medical or scientific evidence to confirm sexual intercourse.
Evidence found at the scene, including the victim’s state of undress and nearby ripped underwear pointed to the attack having been sexually motivated. However, there was no medical or forensic evidence that sexual intercourse had taken place. Charges of rape were authorised on the basis of CCTV evidence. The police investigating the attack found local CCTV footage that depicted actions that could only be the defendant raping the victim. On this basis the CPS authorised charges of rape.
After the defendant was arrested, evidence of the victim’s DNA evidence was found on his dressing gown, which witnesses from his home confirmed he had been wearing shortly after the attack while his clothes were in the washing machine. This was used as evidence in the trial that sexual activity had taken place.
There were several pieces of evidence that showed Boianjiu had assaulted the victim, including his DNA under her fingernails from her attempts to defend herself from the attack, the victim’s DNA on a necklace found in the defendant’s possession when he was arrested and traces of her hair on his clothes and shoes.
However, to prove the offence of attempted murder, the CPS must prove to the jury that the defendant intended to kill and not just cause even serious harm to the victim.
CCTV of the attack was analysed in detail, with a police officer dedicated to the task. This analysis revealed that the defendant had stamped on the victim at least 11 times after he had raped her for the second time. The victim’s injuries and traces of her hair on the defendant’s footwear also showed that he had stamped on her head.
After stamping on the victim’s head, the evidence showed the defendant fetching a wheelie bin and trying, unsuccessfully to lift the victim into it. He dragged her body further into the alleyway then finally left the scene an hour and 40 minutes after he first attacked the victim and was seen on CCTV discarding one of her shoes in a nearby bin as he left.
This sequence of events was presented to the jury as evidence that the defendant had tried to kill the victim to prevent himself from being identified as the attacker and that he had tried to conceal her body in the wheelie bin. When that failed, he just left her for dead.
The CPS also applied to the court to introduce evidence of a conviction in Boianjiu’s native Moldova for murder. Evidence was presented to the jury that he had been convicted of murdering his partner and disposing of her body in a well before escaping the country. He was later brought back and served a prison sentence for the murder. The previous case in Moldova had parallels with his actions in Wellingborough and it was therefore important that the CPS made the strongest application to the judge to request that this bad character evidence be allowed to go before the jury. The CPS was able to demonstrate to the Court that both offences were similarly violent, with the defendant attempting to conceal the bodies of the each victim and evade the authorities.
Notes to editors
- Liz Fell is a Senior Crown Prosecutor from the CPS East Midlands rape and serious sexual offences unit
- Sergiu Boinjiu was found not guilty on a second count of rape, but had pleaded guilty to attempted rape