Man jailed for 17 years for stabbing pregnant ex-girlfriend in Aberfan

  • Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke outlined the ordeal Daniel Popescu subjected Andreea Pintili to as she passed down her sentence.

A 29-year-old man has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison after repeatedly stabbing his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Daniel Popescu, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Andreea Pintili in Aberfan, in Merthyr Tydfil, on December 5 last year.

He also admitted to a stalking offence but denied a further charge of intimidation, a charge the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to pursue given the guilty attempted murder plea.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard how Popescu and Miss Pintili had split up around August 2023 after Popescu developed a gambling habit. He then became obsessed with her. 

On the day of the attack, Aberfan was brought to a standstill with schools locked down while armed police searched for the knifeman who had fled the scene.

Footage played in court showed a hooded Popescu crouching behind a vehicle with a seven to eight-inch knife in his hand as he waited for Miss Pintili to return home from taking her children to school.

It then showed Popescu grab Miss Pintili by the arm, at which point she attempted to run away but fell to the ground. Popescu then stabbed her a number of times.

Miss Pintili, who was 37 weeks pregnant at the time, described holding her stomach and trying to protect her unborn child.

Aberfan was brought to a standstill with schools locked down while armed police searched for the knifeman who had fled the scene. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

A woman who had been passing with her dog screamed and ran to try and help, which caused Popescu to run off.

Miss Pintili was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff with stab wounds to her back and thumb.

She received treatment and was discharged the following day. Her baby did not sustain any injuries and was born soon after the attack.

In a statement read out in court, Miss Pintili, who attended the hearing, said she felt “lucky to be alive after this harrowing experience”, adding that the attack had affected her socially as she no longer feels confident leaving the house.

Describing the attack, she said: “Popescu tried to get me into my house, he told me he had a knife and to get in the house.

"I have no doubt that had he got me into the house he would’ve killed me. This was clearly his intention that day, to kill me and my unborn child.

“I still feel very anxious about what Popescu did to me and I have sleepless nights and nightmares just thinking about it.

“Since the attack, if I feel something touch my back I tremble in fear. I always keep all of my doors and windows locked for safety and I was never like this prior to the attack.

“I feel I will never be safe from this man. I feel very scared and anxious of the thought of him being released.”

David Aubrey KC, defending, said Popescu has expressed “genuine remorse and regret”.  Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Prosecuting, John Hipkin KC told the court how in the weeks leading up to the attack, Popescu had repeatedly knocked on the window of Miss Pintili’s previous address, left bags of his clothes outside her house, phoned her multiple times and left her voicemails saying he would not leave her street until she got back together with him.

Popescu was consequently arrested and released on bail and told not to contact Miss Pintili. 

These events led Miss Pintili to move to Aberfan, but in late November 2023 she saw Popescu near her new address.

The court heard how Popescu sent a number of messages to his sister in Romania, saying “Andreea got back with her ex, I haven’t been in work for a week, I’ve been following them every day, and today I found out where it is”.

He also sent two further messages to his sister, saying “yes, wh***s must die, why should they put my son under his name? Not once in a lifetime will that ever happen”, and that he would “either go to jail or kill myself if I can”, which prosecutors said revealed that the attack was pre-planned.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard Miss Pintili had moved to Aberfan after she and Popescu had split up when he developed a gambling habit. Credit: Wales News Service

Popescu had been seen leaving the house he was staying in at the time between 4am and 5am every day to look for Miss Pintili’s new partner.

Defending, David Aubrey KC highlighted how Popescu has no previous convictions, was sleeping rough at the time, and there were concerns about him taking his own life. 

He said Popescu has expressed “genuine remorse and regret”. 

But sentencing, Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke said the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors.

She imposed an extended sentence comprised of 17 years and four months in prison - with at least two thirds to be served in custody before Popescu can be considered for parole - and a further three years on licence.

An indefinite restraining order was also placed on the defendant, who has been served with notices of deportation back to Romania. 

Popescu wept in the dock as he was sentenced.

Detective Inspector James Morris, from South Wales Police, said: “Daniel Popescu armed himself with a knife and lay in wait for his victim before launching a senseless and sustained act of violence in the middle of the street.

"I can only imagine the fear she must have felt and the impact this disturbing incident has had on her.

“It is clear from the sheer vicious and sustained force he used that his intention was to kill her.

“The strength and bravery of the victim in supporting this prosecution has been extraordinary.

"Unsurprisingly she remains psychologically scarred as a result of the incident, but I know that, thanks to her courage, Daniel Popescu will be unable to harm any further women. I hope that today’s sentence will bring at least a degree of closure for her.

“I must also commend the actions of the courageous member of the public for their bravery in running to help the victim after the attack.”

Jordan Jones, senior crown prosecutor at CPS Cymru-Wales, said: “This was an unprovoked, vicious attack that had a great effect on not only the victim, but the wider community as local schools were forced into shut down until the police were able to detain the defendant shortly after the attack.

“I hope the sentencing of this defendant brings a sense of justice to both the victim and the wider community affected by the defendant’s actions.”

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