Man admits killing mother-of-two on her way home from hospital and dumping her body in bushes

Maria Rawlings, a mother-of-two, had suffered multiple injures

A man has admitted killing a woman who he followed off a bus on her way home from hospital, before dumping her body in bushes in East London.

Valentin Lazar, 21, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to the murder of mother-of-two Maria Rawlings in Romford in May.

Ms Rawlings, 45, was on the same bus as Lazar after visiting accident and emergency on the evening of May 3 following a fall.

He targeted her because she was a vulnerable woman alone at night, it was alleged.

"He was probably carrying a knife," prosecutor Paul Jarvis told an earlier hearing.

"He led her into the bushes before violently attacking her and ultimately killing her before stealing some of her belongings and walking off."

Ms Rawlings had suffered multiple injures but there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Her naked body was discovered in shrubbery the following afternoon by a dog walker. She had suffered numerous injuries including 13 rib fractures, compression to the chest and a suspected stab wound.

Lazar, who boarded a bus towards Dagenham after the attack, was caught after an ITV London news article posted on social media led to a member of the public identifying him, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

When he was arrested on May 9, officers found clothes matching those of the attacker with traces of blood on them.

Ms Rawlings' two daughters sat in court for the short hearing on Friday when Lazar entered his guilty plea with the assistance of a Romanian interpreter.

The court was told that he admitted murder but denied he intended to kill Ms Rawlings or that he had a knife.

Remanding the defendant into custody, Judge Peter Rook QC said: “You have pleaded guilty to murder in a case of the utmost seriousness.

“There is only one sentence the court can pass and that is one of life imprisonment. A judge will decide the minimum that you must serve.”

Little Heath, Romford, east London, where Maria Rawlings was found

Emma Currie, from the CPS, said: “Maria Rawlings was a vulnerable woman. She had attended A&E on the night of her murder, but tragically left before she was seen.

"The prosecution case included DNA and footprint evidence as well as CCTV footage which caught Lazar leaving with the handbag Ms Rawlings had been wearing earlier that evening.

"Valentin Lazar is a violent man who has shown little remorse for his actions. When initially arrested he even claimed to suffer from memory loss, saying ‘I can’t remember what happened yesterday'."

The case was adjourned until January 10 next year.