Case: Stabbed to death in Ilford: Mariana Popa
Mariana Popa
Farooq Shah
Status: Solved
Categories: Uncategorised
Case synopsis:

Mariana Popa, 24, was stabbed to death by a robber on the streets of Ilford on 29 October 2013.

Police and paramedics were called to Iflord Lane near the junction with Loxford Lane at around midnight.

Ms Popa, who was six weeks pregnant with her second child, had collapsed on the floor of the Chicken and Pizza 4U takeaway with stab wounds to her chest.

She died at hospital at 1.35am. The postmortem gave the cause of death as shock and haemorrhaging from stab wounds to the chest.

On 8 November detectives charged Farooq Shah, 20 [19/12/92], of Station Road, Forest Gate, with murder of Miss Popa and a knifepoint robbery carried out an hour earlier.

He went on trial at Woolwich Crown Court on 12 May 2014. The court heard Miss Popa left Romania with her partner in 2012 and moved to the UK via Italy before finding a flat in Ilford a few weeks before her death.

Her partner was unaware she was earning money through sex work but on the night of the murder local officers patrolling the area had spoken to her three times and issued her with a caution for soliciting.

The prosecution claimed Shah, a Muslim with a shaven head and long beard, was captured on CCTV riding a bike alongside Miss Popa before taking a knife from his back pocket and stabbing her in the chest.

CCTV showed the same man riding a bike away from the scene. Jurors heard police managed to trace his movements to an area around St Francis Way and found a similar bike outside Shah's home.

Shah's bag also matched one worn by the murderer in the footage and a Samsung Galaxy phone recovered from the flat was linked to a robbery carried out in Harold Road, Upton Park, at around 11pm on 28 October.

The victim of that attack, a man in his 50s, was partially sighted but crucially was able to describe his assailant's distinctive thick beard.

Shah claimed he was a victim of mistaken identity.

On 2 June 2014 the jury convicted Shah of murder and robbery. On 27 June Shah was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 29 years before parole.

Farooq ShahMariana Popa

Killer Farooq Shah and victim Mariana Popa

Judge Christopher Kinch QC said: ‘On the Jury’s verdict, you stabbed and killed Mariana Popa in a callous and brutal manner on 28 October last year.

‘You did not know her, she had done nothing to harm or provoke you. As you walked alongside her you took out a knife concealed behind your back and without warning stabbed her in the chest.

‘It was an utterly terrible attack which inevitably led to her death and it was carried out with callous indifference on a defenceless woman. Mariana Popa did not stand a chance. Why you sought her out no one knows.’

Detective Inspector Darren Richards, the investigating officer, said: "This was a cold-blooded, senseless murder by a man who went out that night, armed with a knife, intent on using it to commit serious injury to someone.

"He had already threatened and robbed a vulnerable man with a knife earlier that night, and he was hanging around the Ilford Lane area, looking for another victim.

"He killed Mariana because she was there, because he thought he could get away with it. In doing so, he has deprived a young daughter of her mother. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of Mariana."

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