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Alleged "predatory rapists" hid behind garden wall before attacking woman in Rope Walk, Ipswich, court hears

PUBLISHED: 22:19 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 22:58 02 August 2017

The cordoned off scene of the alleged sexual assault in Rope Walk.  Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING

The cordoned off scene of the alleged sexual assault in Rope Walk. Picture: ASHLEY PICKERING

Two alleged "predatory rapists" hid behind a garden wall while tracking a woman through Ipswich before attacking her, a court heard today.

The two men accused of the attempted rape seen on CCTV. The men denied the charge. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICEThe two men accused of the attempted rape seen on CCTV. The men denied the charge. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

At the start of their Ipswich Crown Court trial, the jury heard George-Hari Constantinescu and Danut Gheorghe, both 30, and of Farnham Road, Blaxhall, deny attempted rape, and an alternative charge of sexual assault.

It was alleged before the woman was assaulted Constantinescu - who was living in Anglesea Road, Ipswich, at the time, and Gheorghe had been pestering another female in Bowman’s nightspot in Falcon Street, and subsequently wandered around the town taking an interest in at least one other woman.

The court was told the attack began when a man put both hands over the terrified victim’s mouth as she was walking in Rope Walk just before 3.30am on February 25. He bundled her into an isolated car park before she fell unconscious.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson told the jury: “It is the prosecution’s case that in those early hours these defendants were predatory rapists.

Another CCTV image showing Constantinescu and Gheorghe. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYAnother CCTV image showing Constantinescu and Gheorghe. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

“They followed (the woman) into that road, and there attacked and intended to rape her. They say that they were not the men who attacked and tried to rape (the woman). Therefore the central issue you are going to have to resolve in this trial is whether or not you are sure that in the case of each of these defendants that they were responsible for the attempt to rape her.”

The court heard the woman had been out in Ipswich with friends on February 24 and was walking on her own early the following morning after leaving them.

Unbeknown to her she was followed as she walked through Tacket Street, Orwell Place, and Eagle Street. When she was in Rope Walk the woman suddenly became aware of two men running behind her.

As soon as she realised they were there, one of the men put both his hands over her mouth in an attempt to stifle her screams.

One of the CCTV images issued by police after the Rope Walk attack. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYOne of the CCTV images issued by police after the Rope Walk attack. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

They took her into a nearby secluded car park where the terrified woman desperately struggled to get away.

The jury was told that was her last recollection of the attack as she lost consciousness, sustaining injuries to her head and face.

When she came round she was alone in the car park and naked from the waist down, although there was no DNA evidence her assailants had attempted to have sex with her.

As the woman did not see her attackers she was unable to say whether they were Constantinescu and Georghe.

The court heard the victim’s handbag and its contents had not been touched so the motive could not have been robbery.

Mr Jackson said: “Accordingly the prosecution say that this attack can only have been done to her with the intention of raping her.

“It’s the prosecution’s case that it was these two defendants who were responsible for that attempted rape.”

Neither of the defendants knew the woman involved.

The jury heard CCTV footage showed the men “targeting” the woman in the town centre no more than 15 minutes before the attack and following her out of town.

At one point they appeared to have caught up with her at a busy road junction.

Allegedly Constantinescu and Gheorghe did not want to be seen so they hid behind a garden wall.

The woman then crossed the road into Rope Walk not knowing she was being followed.

She suddenly heard two men running up behind her before she was attacked.

Almost immediately after the assault, Constantinescu and Gheorghe were said to be seen retracing their steps back towards the town centre.

Gheorghe had the hood of his coat over his head.

The jury was told earlier that morning the pair had been in Bowman’s pestering another young female.

They had also allegedly loitered outside a kebab shop in Dog’s Head Street when another woman was inside, and had been hanging around outside Hawk Express taxi office in Old Foundry Road.

In the days after attack following police appeals, it is alleged Constantinescu moved to a caravan near Gheorghe’s at Sutton Hoo. He also shaved his head. When police looked at his phone it had been reset to factory settings.

Gheorghe’s phone showed he had searched for airline flights and had also looked on Google Earth, allegedly to see if he could find where CCTV cameras were mounted on the top of buildings.

The trial continues.

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