An alleged serial rapist who is charged with murdering one of his victims targeted women on their own and under cover of darkness, a court has been told.

Aman Vyas turned a small area near his home in Walthamstow, east London, into his “hunting ground” for a “series of violent rapes” between March and May 2009, prosecutor Tom Little QC said.

The barrister told Croydon Crown Court in south London: “The prosecution say the defendant would go out prowling in the early hours of the morning, looking for lone women on whom he could prey.”

“Three of his victims were attacked and raped out in the open, while one was raped after the defendant had followed her back to her flat.”

The jury was told that Vyas, 35, had evaded justice for more than a decade as he left Britain just weeks after the last attack.

He was extradited from India in October 2019.

Vyas is accused of raping and murdering 35-year-old Michelle Samaraweera on May 30 2009, and raping three other women whose ages range from 35 to 59.

He is charged with murder, six counts of rape, of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and of having an article with a blade or point in a public place.

Mr Little told the jury that Vyas has admitted one of the rapes but denies the other attacks, even “in the teeth of compelling evidence of his guilt”.

His semen has been linked to the four attacks and scientific evidence also connects him to the victims’ clothing, the court heard.