A "highly dangerous" sex offender who raped and assaulted two women and fled the country to try and evade justice has been jailed for 18 years.
Mircea Cicalo, 22, of no fixed abode, fled to Romania after he was arrested.
He was found through a European Arrest Warrant and extradited back to the UK, where he pleaded guilty to two rapes.
Cicalo carried out both his attacks in Luton in 2018 within three weeks of one another.
At around 6.40am on Saturday 13 October, a passer-by called the emergency services after finding a woman in her 40s with facial injuries in distress in a ditch in Cromwell Road.
The victim, who needed hospital treatment, had been seriously assaulted by Cicalo, who approached her in New Bedford Road before raping her and leaving her in the ditch.
Then, in the early hours of 2 November, a woman in her 20s reported being raped and beaten by a man who had engaged her in conversation as she walked through Luton town centre.
Responding officers arrested a man within minutes of her 999 call after CCTV operators tracked him leaving the scene, but in interview Cicalo claimed it was consensual intercourse and denied the assault.
He was bailed and officers continued the investigation.
As the investigation continued, in February 2019, Cicalo’s DNA profile was matched to the attack in October, but by this time he had fled the country and gone into hiding.
A European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued to aid the hunt for him, and in February 2021 he was extradited to the UK.
He pleaded guilty to the October 2018 rape but maintained his innocence in relation to the second offence. However, on the first day of trial, he amended his plea to guilty.
Cicalo was sentenced on Friday at Luton Crown Court to serve 18 years in prison for both counts of rape.
He will serve an additional six years on license and will not be considered for parole until he serves at least two thirds of his sentence.
At sentencing, the judge called Cicalo a “highly dangerous man who posed an ongoing significant risk to women”, adding he had “displayed no remorse or empathy and displayed misogyny to women in general”.
Det Sgt Paul Falcon, from Bedfordshire Police, said: "I truly commend the bravery of the victims who showed great courage in coming forward and staying on board with us to give their consistent accounts of what Cicalo had put them through.
"This was a lengthy and complex case, where we worked tirelessly to bring together two separate investigations across international borders. Cicalo has shown himself to be a dangerous and persistent sexual offender, preying on lone victims at night.
"We will never tolerate violence towards women and girls and will do everything we can to empower victims and bring perpetrators to justice.“
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