A man who raped a teenage girl in a town centre flowerbed has been jailed for more than six years.
Ciprian Plaiu was locked up on Wednesday (June 27) after he was found guilty of carrying out the horrific attack in a popular nightclub town.
The 18-year-old victim was on a night out in Kingston with a friend but became separated from them. She walked through the town centre in the early hours of April 1, back to where her friend had parked their car but was attacked by Ciprian Plaiu on the way.
She was walking down Canbury Park Road and turned into Elm Crescent when Plaiu, who was a stranger to her, grabbed her and pushed her onto the ground and into a flowerbed.
The 31-year-old told her to shut up before covering her mouth and raping her. One of the victim's friends appeared and Plaiu got off the girl and casually strolled away.
Her friend and the victim reported the rape to the police, who initially tried to use DNA evidence to find the rapist. Despite being able to extract a full DNA profile, the offender was not listed on their register.
CCTV showed images of the man they suspected had been involved, made identifiable by his distinctive trainers. They contacted all the late licensed premises in the area and used the descriptions to find a man that matched the description given of the attacker on a club's entry list.
Plaiu lived in a property in London Road, near to where the rape had occurred and police found him there, wearing the same pair of trainers that were captured on CCTV in the town.
He was arrested on April 27 by officers from the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command with support from officers from the Territorial Support Group at Metropolitan Police.
Plaiu initially denied the evidence in police interviews, but his DNA registered as a match with that taken into evidence on the night of the rape.
He was charged on April 29 and told Kingston Crown Court on May 25 "I am guilty, I did it". He officially pleaded guilty on June 15 and on Wednesday (June 27) was jailed for six years and three months.
He was also placed on the sexual offences register.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Kellie Bremner, of the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command, said: "This has been a traumatic experience for the victim, who had been simply enjoying a night out with her friends.
"Her courage and bravery during the entire process has been nothing short of awe-inspiring; we are thankful to her for supporting the investigation and enabling us to secure this conviction and sentencing in what has been a very, very difficult time for her.
"I hope this will provide her with some small measure of comfort and enable her to move on with her life."
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Keith Ward, of the Child Abuse and Sexual offences Command added, "Thankfully incidents of this nature in Kingston are very rare, I would like to commend the victim for the courage she has shown throughout this ordeal.
"I would also like to thank the local licensed premises, late night venues and the Kingston local authority for their prompt assistance in providing extensive CCTV. This proved pivotal in enabling us to identify and later convict this dangerous individual."