Man jailed for murdering his sister-in-law in Ilford
A Met investigation has resulted in a man who murdered his sister-in-law being jailed for at least 28 years.
Nicolae Virtosu, 49 (19.12.73) of Princes Road, Ilford, appeared at the Old Bailey on Monday, 9 October where he was sentenced for the murder of Svetlana Mihalachi.
At the same court, on 21 July, he had been convicted of murder and making a threat to kill.
During trial the court heard how Virtosu was the victim’s brother-in-law. Svetlana, her husband, her 12-year-old son and Virtosu all lived together at their home in Ilford.
The relationship between 53-year-old Svetlana and Virtosu was not an easy one – they often argued about chores around the house, noise and money.
Eventually Svetlana made it clear that she wanted Virtosu to move out, but he refused.
Over time the relationship deteriorated further, with Virtosu continuing to threaten Svetlana – she began to fear for her life.
In desperation she reported Virtosu, who was in the UK illegally, to the Home Office.
On 3 March 2021, Svetlana called police asking for Virtosu to be removed from the house, however she was scared of Virtosu and afraid of the implications of making a statement. Officers told her they would report Virtosu to immigration services.
At 14:08hrs on 9 April 2021, police were called by the London Ambulance Service following reports that a woman had been assaulted at the house in Princes Road.
Officers attended and found Svetlana with serious head injuries caused by blows to the head with a hatchet. The hatchet was found at the scene. Virtosu’s finger prints were found on the handle.
CCTV enquiries in the area showed that Virtosu had left the house at 12:02hrs when he was seen walking quickly away along Princes Road. As he walked away from the address he made a call to the Svetlana’s husband, but when the call wasn’t picked up Virtosu sent a text message telling him that his wife was dead.
When Svetlana’s husband returned home he found her lying on the sofa with serious head and facial injuries. Officers arrived and gave first aid. They were soon joined by paramedics, who conducted emergency procedures at the scene before taking her to the Royal London Hospital where she underwent surgery and was placed in an induced coma on life support.
Despite all those efforts, her condition deteriorated and at 00:06hrs on 12 May 2021 Svetlana sadly died.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of death to have been multi- organ failure resulting from head injuries and loss of blood.
While emergency services were working to save Svetlana, the defendant returned to the address and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Throughout the trial Virtosu claimed to have been ‘hearing voices’ and suffering a psychotic disorder. He claimed that Svetlana had appeared to him as having devil-like shining red eyes to support a defence of diminished responsibility, but he did not convince the jury.
Detective Constable Rosamund Ellis, from the Met's Specialist Crime Command, said: “In the months and weeks leading to her death, Svetlana Mihalachi had lived with the threat of violence from Virtosu ever present. Those threats eventually became a physical attack so ferocious that they ended her life.
“Virtosu tried hard to give the impression that he wasn’t responsible for his actions due to a mental health disorder, but his actions were not the result of delusions, they were the actions of an angry violent man who launched a murderous attack on Svetlana as he had threatened to do on so many occasions.
“She was a wife and a mother and the depth of loss felt by her loved ones is immeasurable. My thoughts are with them today.”
Virtosu was found not guilty of a second count of making a threat to kill.