Finsbury Park murder: 'Sadistic' sex attacker jailed for life for murdering Iuliana Tudos

UK

A “sadistic” sex attacker has been jailed for life for murdering a barmaid as she walked home through a London park on Christmas Eve.

Kasim Lewis, 31, pleaded guilty to killing Iuliana Tudos in Finsbury Park at a hearing attended by her family.

The 22-year-old was reported missing by friends when she failed to arrive at a festive celebration on 24 December.

Friends found her mutilated body in a derelict hut in Finsbury Park during desperate searches three days later.

Police said Ms Tudos, who was born in Moldova, was attacked as she made her way home, with CCTV footage showed her on the periphery of the park at 8.20pm.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told the Old Bailey: “Iuliana was struck over the head most likely with a bottle, she was also stabbed with a broken bottle in the neck, on her abdomen and on her wrists with a broken bottle.

“Although there is no evidence that Iuliana was actually sexually assaulted, the prosecution allege that this was a sexually motivated and sadistic attack.”

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as a stab wound to the abdomen and a head injury, inflicted while Lewis was fuelled by cocaine, cannabis and alcohol.

Scene where woman was found dead in Finsbury Park

During the attack, he extracted her PIN number and was later caught on CCTV using her bank card to withdraw money.

Judge Richard Marks QC jailed him for life with a minimum term of 29 years.

“This is a killing that demonstrated the most appalling brutality – it was horrendous and barbaric,” he said. 

“This slightly-built young woman was alone in a park at night and was as such vulnerable in the extreme. She must have died a terrible death. What you did to her was wicked beyond belief.”

The murderer, who was born in Montserrat and lived in north London, was jailed for a previous sex attack more than a decade ago.

Lewis, who is HIV-positive, was handed two years for sexual assault and exposure on a bus and placed on the sex offenders register in 2005.

He was jailed for a further eight months in 2011 for failing to comply with notification requirements and a community order.

Ms Tudos, known as Julie, was a popular member of staff at the World’s End pub in Camden.

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A court sketch of Kasim Lewis appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on 3 January (PA)

Friends and customers remembered her as a “welcoming” and friendly woman with a “beautiful soul” who made an “awesome impression” on all those she met.

A crowdfunding page set up by friends has so far raised more than £17,000 for her family.

Friend Krystyna Rymarczyk, who started the campaign, wrote: “We are deeply moved by the generosity and kindness you have expressed with your donations. 

“Julie’s spirit and energy will live on through her family and friends.”

She was last seen at around 8pm on Christmas Eve when she finished her shift at the World’s End and headed for a bus home from Camden.

Ms Tudos planned to collect her belongings before travelling to a friend’s home in Enfield later that evening before spending Christmas Day there.

When she failed to arrive, her friends posted messages on social media, contacted the pub, hospitals and distributed fliers.

The searches led to them discovering Ms Tudos’ body in a burnt-out shed in Finsbury Park.

The court heard that she had been bound with cable ties, and paramedics described a wound to her chest as looking like the logo for Batman or the letter M.

In mitigation, Lewis’ defence lawyer Jeremy Dein QC said his actions were “barbaric [and] irrational beyond comprehension” but the sadistic injuries were inflicted after Ms Tudos was knocked unconscious.

Lewis tried to lay a “false trail” by texting a contact to ask about the discovery of a woman’s body the day after Ms Tudos was found, the jury was told.

But when Lewis was arrested at his on-off boyfriend’s flat in Dalston, he told officers: “I did it.“

A search of his phone revealed a trailer for a pornographic film featuring a young woman being chased into an alleyway and then bound with cable ties. 

Plastic strips matching those at the murder scene were found at his home on New Year’s Eve, alongside a knife in his fridge.

Analysis of Ms Tudos’ phone showed it was carried back to an area near Lewis’ flat, where muddy jeans with blood matching her DNA profile were also discovered.

Sarah Dale, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said Lewis had forced his victim to give up her PIN number before murdering her in “a sustained and brutal attack”.

“Our thoughts are with Iuliana’s family today and we hope today’s conviction and sentence bring them some measure of satisfaction,” she added.

Ms Tudos’ stepfather Costa Vasiliou, who travelled from his home in Cyprus to attend court, paid an emotional tribute the Old Bailey.

“She was murdered in the most repelling and inhuman way, a disgrace to the human race,” he said. “As parents we have lost our beloved daughter.”

Additional reporting by PA

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