New police officer speaks of team determination which helped lead to arrest of rapist
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A new police officer has spoken of her and her colleagues’ determination which helped lead to a rapist being arrested an hour after he had fled the scene of his “harrowing and appalling” crime.
Police Constable Karolina Zalewska had been in her role for two weeks when she and her colleagues were called to a report of a burglary and rape in the South Leicester area during the early hours of 19 July.
A man, later identified as 28-year-old Virgil Arhip, had broken into the property before raping a woman who was living in the property. He had then fled the scene.
The victim, who is in her 60s, immediately reported the incident to police, making a call to 999 at 1.54am.
PC Zalewska, who started her new role on 6 July following four months of training, described how after arriving at the scene, they saw officers were already with the victim providing support and carrying out initial enquiries. PC Zalewska said they therefore decided to immediately start searching the area nearby to see if the suspect was still in the area.
A detailed description of the suspect had been provided including a description of a tattoo and that he was wearing jeans belonging to the victim when he left the property and blue shoes.
PC Zalewska said: “Once we saw the victim was being looked after, we just thought we need to get out there straight away and see if we can find the person responsible. I was with another officer and we were driving around the streets for about an hour, just trying to find a person matching the description. It wasn’t just me and my colleague but other crews too – all out looking to find the suspect.
“We’d been out about an hour and I was thinking that our searches weren’t going to lead to anything but we were just really determined. And then as we were driving down one of the streets, which was very near to the scene of the crime, I saw a man in the street matching the description.”
The officers immediately approached the man, later confirmed to be Arhip, and after having an initial conversation with him, which led to them realising he fully matched the description provided, the arrest was made.
Arhip denied the offence in interview but due to police evidence gathered, and an intensive investigation by officers in the force’s Signal department, he was charged with rape and burglary later that same day.
Further work by the Signal department, including CCTV and forensic enquiries, led to Argil, of no fixed abode, pleading guilty to one count of rape and one count of burglary at a hearing at Leicester Crown Court on 4 September.
Today, at the same court, he was found to be a dangerous offender and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with a four year extended licence for the rape offence. He was sentenced to one year imprisonment for the burglary offence which will be served concurrently.
PC Zalewska, who was previously a Special Constable and also worked as a Positive Action Officer within the force’s Diversity and Inclusion Unit, said: “The victim’s bravery to immediately contact police and speak to officers really helped us to be able to help her. To later hear about the conviction made me very proud to be part of the whole team who helped bring this case to court and who helped obtain justice for the victim.
“My thoughts are very much with the victim and I hope this conviction does help her in some small way as she moves forward in her life.”
Detective Inspector Gareth Goddard, from the force’s Signal department, said: “This was a truly harrowing and appalling attack on a woman in her own home.
“Thanks to the extreme bravery of the victim and the swift actions and tenacious work of all officers involved – from those taking the initial emergency call and attending the scene to those who assisted in a thorough and dedicated investigation - Arhip pleaded guilty to these horrendous crimes and has today been sentenced.
“Although this does not change what happened, I hope it is of some support to the victim that the defendant has accepted responsibility in court.
“It is thanks to the victim’s courage to immediately report this crime and bravely co-operate with us that we were able to act on this in the way which we did. We encourage victims of any sexual offence to report it to us. Your report will be investigated and full support will be provided to you throughout.
“You can report an incident by calling 101 or you can report online at https://www.leics.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/. Always call 999 in an emergency.”