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A man who admitted raping a stranger after dragging her off the street in Bridgwater has had his sentence increased after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of Avon and Somerset Police as an unduly lenient sentence.
Alin-Vasile Iercosan, 28, of Bath Road, Bridgwater, was initially jailed for seven years and one month at Taunton Crown Court on Friday 21 April. He was also handed an extended licence period as well as a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).
Taunton Crown Court had heard that he had followed a 25-year-old woman as she walked home in the early hours of Saturday 28 January, before attacking her in a parking area off Friarn Street.
At a hearing on Tuesday 18 July the Court of Appeal concluded that the original sentence was unduly lenient given the extreme impact and the significant degree of planning. The court increased Iercosan’s sentence to 10 years and 10 months, with a three-year licence extension and a lifetime SHPO.
The officer in the case was DC Jessica Hobbs of Operation Bluestone, Avon and Somerset Police’s specialist team tackling rape and serious sexual assault.
She said: “The CCTV evidence we gathered showed Iercosan waiting on the streets of Bridgwater before deliberately following and attacking a lone woman. His behaviour was predatory and we’re glad the Court of Appeal has increased the time he will spend behind bars.
“I want to thank the woman whose evidence has taken off our streets an offender who targeted a complete stranger for his own gratification. I hope this increased sentence helps her as she comes to terms with the impact of his actions.”
At the original sentencing hearing the woman made a personal statement in which she described the impact of Iercosan’s crime:
“I am here today 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. You will only get so many years in prison but … no amount of time you get today will ever justify what you did to me.”
Caitlin Brown of the CPS said: “This was a horrific and planned attack which left a severe psychological impact on the victim. The decision by the Court of Appeal to increase the sentence recognises the seriousness of the offending, including the planned nature of the attack.
“I hope that prosecutions like this will encourage victims of rape and sexual offences to feel confident in coming forward, in the knowledge that they will be supported, and that the police and CPS are determined to secure justice for them.”
An Independent Sexual Violence Advisor has supported the woman throughout the investigation and court process. She continues to have access to support services such as counselling to help her recovery.
Incidents of rape by a stranger, like this case, remain extremely rare. Sadly, the vast majority of rape and serious sexual assault offences are committed by someone known to the victim.
Victims of rape or sexual assault, recent or non-recent, can self-refer to The Bridge, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre available 24/7 365 days a year. Visit their website or call 0117 342 6999.
There are also details of charities and organisations with expertise in supporting victims at www.thisisnotanexcuse.org.
If you feel unsafe in a public place you can report it via the StreetSafe tool. The tool helps to inform our approach to protecting women and girls and allows police and partners to target particular areas of concern.