A GRANDMOTHER was subjected to an "abhorrent" sex attack as she walked to work by a Romanian criminal who was able to come and go from the UK as he pleased – despite an appalling catalogue of offences.

Cezar Florea, 29, was described as "a violent and dangerous individual" as he was jailed for 16 years today.

His victim's family also spoke out – demanding to know why he wasn't monitored as he came and left Britain.

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The 52-year-old grandmother suffered a degrading daylight ordeal in which she was beaten to the ground, kicked in the face and subjected to a determined and prolonged rape attempt which only failed because passer-by Adam Norman intervened.

In a final insult to his victim Florea snatched her handbag as he fled the scene and then managed to leave the country.

At the time he struck, Florea was already a convicted sex attacker in Romania and had a string of robbery convictions stretching back to his teenage years.

However, he was able to travel to the UK and find work in a Middlesbrough car wash.

After his attack he fled back to Romania where he remained on the run for three years, committing another robbery during that time.

His victim couldn't bear to go to Teesside Crown Court to see her attacker, who has left her a shell of her former self, sentenced.

But her daughter said: "How was a man with such a long history of crime allowed to come to Britain without being monitored and do the things he did to my mum?

"She was just a lady walking to work as she did every day when she came across this person who, to us, should never have been allowed into the country.

"There has to be closer monitoring of people with the sort of history he had to stop them from walking into whatever country they choose and then disappearing again.

"My mum is a changed person after what he did to her, she has never fully recovered."

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton told Florea: "For a number of years on and off you have been a visitor to this country. You are a man with many previous convictions in your home country of Romania. These convictions show you to be a violent and dangerous individual."

The attack happened on the morning of June 7th 2014 when Florea went searching for a prostitute after drinking heavily.

Unable to find a sex worker he encountered the woman walking to work at 6am and attacked her on a flyover in the North Ormesby area of the town.

Judge Bourne-Arton said: "You became very drunk and you failed to find a prostitute but it is clear from this offence at 6am that your determination to find a woman to have sex with consumed you for some time.

"Unhappily for this poor woman you came across her at six o'clock in the morning on the street. She was, before you attacked her, a fun loving, normal, every day middle aged woman.

"As a result of what you did, her life has been changed, not so much by the physical  injuries, though they are bad enough, but the psychological effect of your attack on her has been catastrophic. You subjected her to a determined, violent and horrific attack.

"You did everything you could to commit this terrible offence and had it not been for Mr Norman, whose conduct should be recognised, you would have done."

The court was told that Florea ran up behind his victim and seized her around the throat with his arm before punching her repeatedly in the face.

Whilst she lay helpless on the ground he then kicked her repeatedly in the head and face and pulled down the trousers she was wearing.

The victim told police that Florea then exposed himself and began a concerted attempt to rape her and that she was aware of what he was trying to do.

The woman, who suffered a broken nose and broken arm in the attack, made a victim statement to the court describing her ongoing ordeal.

She said: "I have suffered life changing injuries and scars. I was a fun-loving person with a good sense of humour, I would laugh at anything.

"I valued going to work, I would walk places, socialise regularly and generally enjoy life.

"I was feeling happy and confident on my way to work when I just remember being grabbed from behind. I was screaming and a hand was placed over my mouth. I remember feeling terrified at what this man was going to do.

"I thought he wanted my handbag but then I realised he was trying to rape me. I relived the trauma every day on my way to work.

"It was eight months after he attacked me before I went to work by myself.

"Afterwards after seeing any men of the same origin as the man who tried to rape me I would cross the road out of fear of the same thing happening again.

"I had to have my daughter stay with me after what he did to me."
The court was told that Florea's convictions began in 2006 when he was jailed for eight months for robbery aged 16.

He was then convicted of theft in November 2007, before being jailed for 20 months for sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16 in December 2007.

In September  2008 he was jailed for three years for aggravated robbery and in November 2015 - after the attempted rape in Britain - he received another three year sentence for robbery.

Cleveland Police managed to track him down and were on the verge of arresting him under a European Arrest Warrant when he was caught by police in Romania for his final robbery.

Robert Mochrie, mitigating, told the court: "He acknowledges that what he did was an abhorrent act and it is something he will have to live with - as of course will (his victim) - for the rest of his life."

He added: "He wishes to express his remorse which is not done to find favour. He wishes me to mention in open court that he would be more than willing to offer some form of restorative justice be that through a letter or a face to face meeting if that was something she was ever able to entertain.

"If there was anything he could do to help her rehabilitation he would be more than willing to do so."

Florea, who at the time lived in Middlesbrough, admitted attempted rape, assault and robbery.

He was jailed for 16 years with an extended period on licence lasting a further six years.

Detective Inspector Matt Hollingsworth, who led the enquiry, said: "This has been a protracted and intricate investigation which has seen hours upon hours of meticulous investigative work by detectives.

"This is the kind of case that gives detectives sleepless nights, it could have been anyone's mother, sister or grandmother.

"It has taken three years to get to this point but now the victim of this horrendous crime has seen justice served. She has shown great courage and bravery."

Adam Norman was awarded £250 from the public purse by Judge Bourne-Arton.