The police detective who examined footage of a fake delivery man brutally beating three women in their own home before fleeing has revealed that his job became more challenging after one of the victims posted the clip online.
On tonight’s episode of Channel 4’s 24 Hours in Police Custody, Romanian Sandel Hornea, 36, who poses as a delivery boy, is seen knocking on the door of a house in the leafy suburbs of Luton.
When the door is opened, he immediately launches a shockingly brutal attack on three women – a 14-year-old girl, her aunt and elderly grandmother – who are alone in the house. Remarkably, the attack was caught on camera on the property’s CCTV.
Hornea, who had served a nine-year prison sentence in Italy for sex trafficking, launched the brutal attack after she slipped into the UK in 2019, when Britain was complying with free movement rules before Brexit.
The youngest victim’s father, a Chinese family not mentioned by name, posted the video online in an effort to track down the attacker and offered a £20,000 reward over the suspect.
As one detective discovers ‘they literally put up footage of the entire CCTV,’ DCI Tom Hamm tells the camera: ‘Police are all about keeping your cards close to your chest and not giving away what you have. Unfortunately, in this case, by posting the CCTV footage all over social media, he has now become a huge flight risk.”
Sandel Hornea (pictured, on CCTV footage), 36, from Romania, launched a brutal attack after sneaking into the UK in 2019, when Britain was still respecting freedom of movement rules before Brexit
The harrowing footage broadcast tonight shows the suspect knocking the distressed and screaming grandmother to the floor and dragging her into the kitchen, causing her to suffer a brain haemorrhage.
Dan, her granddaughter is violently punched in the face and dragged across the floor screaming, before being knocked off when she screams for help, leading to a broken eye socket.
The driver then lies in wait for the third woman as she comes down the stairs and brutally attacks her, punching her five times before fleeing.
“He didn’t take anything of real value with him,” Detective Tom notes. “But it looks like he took the CCTV hard drive.”
While the victims are taken to hospital, the case is handed over to Detective Inspector Tom Hamm of the Bedfordshire Criminal Investigation Team, who begins an urgent manhunt.
Cameras follow every turn of the hunt after it becomes clear that the suspect is now hiding abroad after fleeing to Romania.
The delivery man beat two women and dragged them into their kitchen at their home in Luton
DCI Tom Hamm (pictured) explains that policing is about ‘keeping your cards close to your chest and not giving away what you have’
“There’s a part of this case that we’ll never find out. Maybe he’ll shed some light on it when he finally finds out. But as it stands, I’m not exactly sure why that house was targeted.’
But when the initial police investigation is unsuccessful, a relative of the victim posts CCTV footage of the attack on Facebook and offers a reward of £20,000.
The post went viral and the story was picked up by newspapers and broadcasters in the UK and internationally.
The video, which was shared on Facebook, was captioned: “This person hasn’t been caught yet. He is now on the run. ‘Please, please help me. Share this post in the UK, even internationally, so that this person can be recognized or seen and caught.
‘Please, please help me. Please share this. My daughter may lose her eye and my mother will have major surgery. So please help me to share this post and get this person please. This happened in Bedfordshire on Monday.’
A photo of a young woman with heavy bruising around her eye was posted alongside the video.
He then waited for the third woman to come down the stairs before brutally attacking her and punching her repeatedly in the face
DCI Tom Hamm notes that the suspect did not take anything of real value with him, but did take what he thought might be the hard drive from the CCTV (photo, fleeing the scene’
Police soon discovered that Sandel Hornea (pictured) had served a nine-year prison sentence in Italy for sex trafficking
Bedfordshire police learned that Hornea had several convictions in Romania, Hungary and Italy for sex trafficking. Pictured, DCI Tom Hamm
Police are now in a race to apprehend the suspect, fearing the publicity will mean he will go to the ground.
The £20,000 reward and discovery of his fingerprints on the fake Amazon package led to his arrest by Romanian police and return to the UK in March.
Bedfordshire police soon discovered that Hornea had several convictions in Romania, Hungary and Italy for sex trafficking.
Detective Inspector Tom Hamm adds, “How can someone who’s been running for nine years get here?”
Hornea pleaded guilty to the Luton Crown Court of wounding, GBH, ABH, robbery, robbery and burglary and will be sentenced in a few weeks.