Tributes paid to house fire victim as police continue hunt for her ex-husband

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The family of a mother killed in a fire at her home in Stoke-on-Trent have paid tribute to her as a supportive, caring woman “who always tried to keep the family together”.

Staffordshire Police have appealed directly to Georgian Constantin to give himself up following the death of his former wife Valentina Cozma in a blaze at her home on Campbell Road, Stoke-on-Trent, last Thursday.

Valentina Cozman
Valentina Cozma, who died following a fire at her home last week (Staffordshire Police/PA)

Her ex-husband, aged 42 and from Stoke-on-Trent, is wanted in connection with her murder.

He is thought to have links to the Southampton area and has been sighted in London since the fire.

Staffordshire Police are now liaising with British Transport Police and the National Crime Agency in a bid to track down Constantin, and are keeping an open mind on whether he remains in the UK or has left the country.

Members of the public who spot Constantin, who has been in the UK since 2017, are being urged to dial 999 rather than approach him.

In an emotional tribute, Valentina’s sister said: “Vali was the person I could talk to about anything.

“She offered me support whenever I needed it. She always tried to keep the family together.

“Being an older sister, she made sure we didn’t lack anything, even if she didn’t have a thing. She went through a lot of hard times, yet she never gave up.

“I am appealing for help from anyone who has details that could help in solving this case.”

The policing commander for Stoke, Chief Superintendent Colin Mattinson, said “My thoughts are with Valentina’s loved ones, and in particular her young son at this deeply traumatic time.

“I know the local community are in shock that someone within their community has died in such awful circumstances. We know she was a quiet woman who was well-liked among her neighbours, having lived in the area for some years.

“My plea is to anyone who has information, no matter how insignificant it may seem – to get in touch. You could hold information that is key to our investigation.

“I am also appealing to Constantin himself, or anyone who may be harbouring him, to get in touch. Running away is not the answer.

“Anyone found to be assisting an offender will be dealt with robustly as this is a serious crime.

“A teenage boy has lost his mother, we need to secure justice for him, Valentina, and her wider family. Please share our appeal and contact us if you know anything at all.”

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