A vicious robber who beat up two women and a teenage girl in their home after posing as an Amazon delivery driver was sentenced to 16 years in jail on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
Romanian, Sandel Hornea called at the family’s home in Luton, Bedfordshire wearing a Hi-Viz jacket and carrying a parcel. When the door was answered the thug forced his way in and launched a brutal assault on the three family members.
The attack on the affluent Chinese family took place at their home in Montrose Avenue in Luton at 10.30am on September 2, 2019 was caught on the family’s CCTV.
The shocking footage was shown recently in the new series of Channel 4’s “24 Hours In Police Custody.”
First, the shaven-headed brute punched the 14-year-old girl who opened the door. She was knocked to the ground and suffered a fractured eye socket.
He delivered another crushing blow to the girl’s 61-year-old grandmother in the hallway, knocking her unconscious and causing a bleed on her brain.
Jobless Hornea, a career criminal, who had committed previous offences in Romania, Italy and Hungary, dragged both the unconscious grandmother and her semi-conscious granddaughter across the hallway floor into the kitchen.
Hearing the commotion, the teenager’s 37-year-old aunt came running down the stairs, only to be punched repeatedly about the head by Hornea who then made off with him satellite tv boxes and a Nintendo Wii.
Within hours of the sickening assaults on the women and schoolgirl, he fled the country.
When 36 year old Hornea appeared for sentence at Luton Crown Court, Judge Mark Bishop passed an 11 year jail sentence with a further five year extended sentence because he said he was a “dangerous offender.”
It means he can be recalled to prison at any time upto 2037. Sentencing him the judge said: “This was a shocking and savage attack on three women aged between 14 and 61 in their own home that left two of them unconscious – one with fractures to her face, and having to undergo an operation, and another with two bleeds on her brain.
“The third was punched four times to the face and was left with bruising.”
Hornea, a career criminal who had previously served a nine year jail term in Italy for sex trafficking which was later increased to 11 years and six months, was able to slip into the UK in 2019 when Britain was still observing freedom of movement rules before Brexit.
He was identified from the family’s CCTV cameras and finger prints found on his empty cardboard box left at the scene.
Three months earlier Hornea had come to the attention of detectives in Luton when police raided a suspected brothel in the town and found him and his partner there, along with other young women.
No action against him was taken in that matter. On the same day as the attack Hornea took a plane out of the country and fled to Romania.
Not long afterwards the father of the youngest victim decided to post online the CCTV footage in a bid to find the attacker.
The film was accompanied by a £20,000 reward for information.
The footage went viral, much to the concern of Bedfordshire Police who feared it would simply drive Hornea deeper into hiding and make it harder to find him as he went to ground.
They appealed to the public not to share the CCTV footage on social media. In the TV programme Sergeant Tom Hamm, who led the investigation, said: “Policing is about holding your cards close to your chest and not giving away what you’ve got.”
He added that putting CCTV images on social media made the suspect “a massive flight risk”.
Following his escape from the UK nothing was heard of Hornea for months, although it was thought he was back in his native Romania.
Police began to work with the Romanian authorities and applied for a European arrest warrant. He was eventually found and returned to the UK in March 2021.
Hornea pleaded guilty to two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and robbery.
The court was told that all three victims have been left fearful and anxious because of what happened to them two years ago.
Judge Bishop told him: “It is clear this attack was targeted and pre-planned.“
He said he had used subterfuge by dressing as an Amazon driver.
Referring to the CCTV he said: “The use of violence was chilling to watch.”