Barry Peacham
Barry Peacham left a woman a persistent vegetative state after she was knifed in the head. Met Police

An evil thug is facing a life sentence for stabbing a City worker in the head and leaving her in a persistent vegetative state to steal her handbag.

Business analyst Qingqing Rao was stabbed in the head and vagina, and left for dead by Barry Peacham as she walked home from work on Valentine's Day eve this year.

In an act described by one experienced police officer as "pure evil" the 30-year-old woman, who was just 5ft 3in, was still wearing her earphones when she was found mutilated and lying unconscious in Castle Green Park in Dagenham, east London.

A jury at the Old Bailey found 26-year-old Ben Peacham guilty of GBH wounding with intent and robbery following a trial, although he was cleared of attempted murder.

The court heard how Peacham had a history of using weapons in a series of robberies and had a record of knife violence dating back to 2008.

Peacham stole Rao's handbag, mobile phone and laptop computer, and Rao has been left in a persistent vegetative state with it "extremely unlikely" she will ever regain consciousness, a jury was told.

Rao had been married less than six months and her husband, Ansgar Wenzel, has said he would 'cherish his wife's goodbye kiss' she gave him the day she died.

He said according to the Mirror: "On the night of 13th February this year, while on the way back from work, my wife of less than six months, my partner for 10 years, my best friend, was brutally assaulted, robbed and stabbed several times a few metres from our home.

"Since then, she has been in a coma from which she will never wake up from. She was cruelly taken away from me the day before Valentine's Day, a few days before our 10-year anniversary, for nothing more than her handbag and its contents."

Rao, who was born in China, worked in Finsbury Square in the City, and was just yards from home, when she was attacked.

The court heard how Peacham was described as being out of breath, wearing gloves, with a rip in his jeans and walking with a limp when he returned home to his flat in Walthamstow, east London, that night.

Peacham claimed during the trial that someone else was responsible.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Holmes, of Scotland Yard, said: "To me this is a crime of pure evil.

He added: "Peacham is one of the most dangerous men I have ever dealt with in my police career, which spans over 28 years."

Peacham will be sentenced on 24 November.