A 20-year-old man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a mother-of-two who is thought to have been attacked after leaving a hospital.

The body of Maria Rawlings, 45, was found in bushes in Little Heath, Romford, on May 4.

Ms Rawlings, who was from Chelmsford, was found by a dog walker. 

Valentin Lazar, of Barking, east London, who is charged with committing murder on May 3, appeared in custody at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

He spoke only to confirm his personal details through a Romanian interpreter as he stood in the dock.

Lazar was ordered to next appear in custody at the Old Bailey on May 13, which will be his birthday.

Police believe Ms Rawlings was attacked after leaving the King George Hospital in Goodmayes, Ilford, walking to Barley Lane in the direction of the A12 on May 3.

A post-mortem examination found that Ms Rawlings had been strangled and suffered head injuries.