27th Oct, 2020

Rugby warehouse worker jailed for rape

A MAN who carried out a series of sex attacks on women has been jailed after a miniature car air freshener helped police link him to the shocking crimes.

Petricia Gheorghita, who worked at a warehouse in Rugby, raped two Coventry sex workers, and tried to rape a third, between August and November last year.

West Midlands Police said: “The women disclosed the offences to police and provided excellent descriptions of their attacker and the white Ford Focus he was driving, plus recollection that a distinctive vial of air freshener was dangling from the rear view mirror.

“Our officers stopped Gheorghita in South Street, Hillfields, on December 19 as he drove home from his warehouse packing job in Rugby.

“It was later suspected the 36-year-old may have been touring the Hillfields area looking for his next victim.

“He matched the description provided by the victims. A knife was found in the driver’s door pocket and a mini bottle of air freshener hanging from the mirror.

“Our specially-trained detectives met with each of the victims and interviewed them in detail; they all gave detailed evidence and later identified Gheorghita during ID procedures.”

He admitted using sex workers in the city but denied three counts of rape, one attempted rape and another count of possessing a knife in public.

At Warwickshire Justice Centre on June 8, he was found guilty on two counts of rape against a 42-year-old woman in a car on a date between August 20 and 25.

Gheorghita, of no fixed address, was found not guilty of trying to rape a 21-year-old woman on November 15 but instead convicted of assault.

The jury failed to reach a decision over whether he raped a 34-year-old woman in October − but a second jury found him guilty of that charge at the same court on Thursday (June 18).

He has been jailed for 13 years and will be on the sex offenders register for life.

Investigating officer, Coventry Police Det Cons Stephen Cleverley from the Public Protection Unit, praised the courage of the women in speaking out and for their compelling evidence.

He added: “Gheorghita put these women through terrifying ordeals: they were driven to remote locations, outside of Coventry, and attacked down country lanes.

“Despite the traumatic experience they all provided excellent evidence, including finer details about the car and its interior.

“All of that helped us build up a strong case against Gheorghita and I’m pleased he’s now been handed a long prison sentence.

“The women can rightly be proud of their roles in helping us secure a conviction. I have no doubt Gheorghita would have gone on to strike again so their actions have helped prevent other women suffering at his hands.”

Inspector Wes Martin added: “My team worked tirelessly to support the women in this case and ensure they were able to give evidence in court.”

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