Murderer gets life for brutal killing of prostitute

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Farooq Shah stabbed Miss Popa in the chest Farooq Shah stabbed Miss Popa in the chest

A murderer who went out with a knife "intending to injure someone" was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for stabbing a pregnant prostitute to death in the street.

Farooq Shah, 21, of Station Road in Forest Gate, will serve a minimum of 29 years in jail for the murder of mother-of-one Mariana Popa, who was stabbed to death while working in Ilford Lane, Ilford, on October 28 last year.

Shah will also serve a concurrent jail term of six years for a knife point robbery on a second victim just hours before in Upton Park.

He was found guilty on both counts at Woolwich Crown Court on June 3.

The brutal killing of Ms Popa, a 24 year-old Romanian national, was captured on CCTV and used as evidence to prosecute Shah.

The footage showed Ms Popa walking along with Shah and his bicycle shortly before midnight, before he took a knife from his back pocket and stabbed her in the chest.

Shah made off on his bike, while Ms Popa ran to a chicken shop in in Ilford Lane where she collapsed. She was taken to an east London hospital where she died shortly afterwards.

A post-mortem examination revealed she died from shock, haemorrhage and stab wounds to the chest.

Just hours before the attack, officers patrolling the area had spoken to Ms Popa and issued her with a caution for soliciting.

She had arrived in the UK with her six-year-old daughter had just weeks before and was in the early stages of pregnancy when she was killed.

After using CCTV footage was used to trace Shah's bike, he was arrested on November 6.

Investigating officer detective inspector Darren Richards said: "This was a cold-blooded, senseless murder by a man who went out that night, armed with a knife, intent on using it to commit serious injury to someone.

"I hope today's sentence brings some sense of justice for them."

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