A man has been jailed for an attack on a woman so severe she is still in a vegetative state nine months later.

Barry Peacham, 27, has been handed a life sentence following the attack on City banker Qingqing Rao in Castle Green, Dagenham, on 13 February, from which she will never fully recover from.

Peacham stabbed his victim while he was trying to rob her, with one of the knife attacks aimed at her head.

The attack resulted in Qingqing receiving a catastrophic brain injury, including bleeding inside her skull.

Nine months later, Qingqing still requires 24-hour care and remains in a prolonged vegetative state at a specialist nursing home.

Qingqing had been walking across Castle Green Park in Dagenham towards her house after finishing work when Peacham approached and robbed her.

Emergency services were called after a passer-by spotted Qingqing injured. When police arrived at the scene, officers recovered her handbag and some of its contents from a nearby park.

Several non-valuable items, such as make-up and an umbrella, had been discarded, but other items including a handheld tablet device, phone and a purse containing bank cards and a driving licence were missing.

The court heard that Peacham returned to his address that night out of breath, wearing gloves and with a rip to his jeans. He changed his clothes before telling his girlfriend he was going to walk the dog, which surprised her as it was something he rarely did.

The pair then went out that night, as Peacham attempted to sell his victim's phone and tablet. Peacham was filmed on CCTV dropping some items down drains in Reginald Ellingworth Street. Police later recovered them and found Qingqing's purse, bank cards, driving licence and phone.

Peacham was convicted at the Old Bailey on 24 October on counts of grievous bodily harm and robbery. He has now been handed the life sentence for causing the injuries to Qingqing. He was also jailed for 12 years, to run concurrently, for robbery.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Holmes, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "The level of force used against Qingqing was horrific and completely unnecessary.

"Peacham inflicted injuries on Qingqing that she will never recover from. He has robbed a young newlywed with a promising career of a bright future.

"Today's sentence reflects the severity of Peacham's crime and is a penalty that is thoroughly deserved."

In a statement Qingqing's husband said: "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 ten 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. She was cruelly taken away from me the day before Valentine's Day, a few days before our ten-year anniversary, for nothing more than her handbag and its contents.

"I would not miss a single day of the almost ten years we have shared; I will always remember how she smiled and turned her head laughing in the morning of 13th February when she left for work; the goodbye kiss is one I will always cherish."

He added: "Finally, I also hope that at some point [Peacham] stops being a coward and takes some responsibility for what he has done."