April 2023

Somerset man who raped stranger jailed

A man has been handed a seven-year prison sentence for ambushing a 25-year-old stranger as she walked home and raping her.

Alin-Vasile Lercosan, 27, of Bath Road, Bridgwater, carried out the attack in a parking area off Friarn Street in the town, early on 28 January.

In a personal statement to the court, the woman said no sentence could “ever justify” what he did to her.

Lercosan pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Friday.

The victim said she had attended the sentencing at Taunton Crown Court to “try and regain some control after you stole it all from me”.

“I’m begging that today will bring me a tiny amount of closure,” she added.

DI Hadley Rides of Operation Soteria Bluestone, the specialist team tackling rape and serious sexual assault, was in charge of the investigation.

He said the CCTV obtained “chillingly shows the predatory behaviour of Lercosan”.

“He waited on the streets of Bridgwater and deliberately followed and attacked a lone woman.”

DI Rides said Lercosan had admitted his crime early on in the court proceedings due to the “overwhelming evidence against him”.

“[And] the strength and determination” of the young woman helped get the offender “off our streets”.

“She stood up in court today and faced the man who attacked her… [and has] shown herself to be much stronger than Lercosan, who fled the country after the attack to try to evade justice.”

The woman has been supported by an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor throughout the investigation and court process, and has ongoing access to support services.

Lercosan also faces an extended licence and a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order.