Thursday, 26 May 2022

Sabina Nessa’s killer who attacked teacher in London park jailed for life

Sabina Nessa's killer is an 'evil coward' says DCI Neil John

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Koci Selamaj, 36, has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years for the brutal murder of the 28-year-old in September last year. Ms Nessa was attacked by Selamaj as she walked through a park in south-east London on her way to meet a friend on September 17 2021. Selamaj, who pleaded guilty to the murder of Ms Nessa in February, was sentenced at the Old Bailey in London on Friday. 

Mr Justice Sweeney described Ms Nessa as a “wholly blameless victim” in an “appalling murder”. He said that Selamaj “may never be released”. 

The killer refused to appear in court or via video link during his sentencing, which began on Thursday and continued on Friday. 

Ms Nessa’s family called Selamaj a “disgusting animal” and a “coward” during the hearing. 

On the day of the murder, Selamaj had driven from his home in Eastbourne on the south coast to London to carry out “a premeditated and predatory attack on a stranger”.

The garage worker lurked around Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London, before attacking Ms Nessa as she was on her way to a bar to meet a friend on the September evening.

CCTV footage captured the moment that Selamaj caught sight of Ms Nessa and checked to see if anyone was around.

The court heard that Ms Nessa was “oblivious” as Selamaj ran up behind her and launched his attack. 

He then ran towards his victim and attacked her by hitting her over the head 34 times with a 2ft-long metal traffic triangle before carrying her away unconscious. 

Judge Sweeney told the court: “She was savagely beaten unconcious, dragged off the beaten track into an area of long grass, asphyxiated, and her body hidden.” 

The body of Ms Nessa, who taught a year one class at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, was discovered nearly 24 hours later near a community centre in the park.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC invited the court to conclude there was a sexual motive for the killing, even though there was no “positive” evidence of sexual assault. 

Selamaj, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, was arrested in the seaside town and charged with Ms Nessa’s death a few days after the attack.

He pleaded guilty to the murder of Ms Nessa in February this year.

Ms Nessa’s sister Jebina Yasmin Islam broke down as she gave a moving impact statement to the court.

She said: “She had every right to be walking down the path and enjoying herself.”

“She had the right to feel safe.”

She said her sister was an “amazing role model” who was “powerful, fearless, bright and just an amazing soul”.

Ms Nessa’s parents Abdur Rouf and Azibun Nessa said in a statement: “You had no right to take her away from us in such a cruel way.”

Ms Morgan QC told the court that Selamaj’s ex-wife called the police when she recognised his image being circulated in the media. 

She said Selamaj had been violent towards his ex-partner in the past, including throttling her a number of times.

Koci Selamaj seen on CCTV on day of Sabina Nessa’s death

Ms Morgan told the Old Bailey that the defendant’s behaviour towards his ex-partner changed from May 2021 onwards. It initially involved dictating how she should behave but this later escalated into physical aggression, the court heard. 

Ms Morgan told the court his behaviour made his ex-partner fearful and she decided to leave him.

The court also heard that just three days before the attack on Ms Nessa, Selamaj booked a room at the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne.

He booked into the hotel on September 17, just two hours before Ms Nessa’s murder.

The Old Bailey heard a statement from his ex-wife after the killer left the hotel the same day, when he repotedly tried to engage her in sexual activity.

Selamaj’s car was later tracked travelling to London.

He used his bank card at Sainsbury’s to buy a rolling pin, though he did not deploy it as a weapon.

The CPS said the rolling pin was discovered in the wheel well of the boot of his car and deduced that Selamaj had decided the emergency triangle was “a better weapon”. 

The man entered Cator Park in Kidbrooke shortly after 20:00 and lurked in wait for around half an hour before Ms Nessa arrived.

The young woman had been on her way to The Depot Bar in Kidbrooke Village where she was due to meet a friend.

Ms Nessa texted her friend to say she would be around 10 minutes at 20:27. In her final message sent a minute later, she suggested the pair sit outside at the bar. 

Prosecutor Ms Morgan said Ms Nessa may have chosen to walk through the park because she was running late. 

She said the young woman had discussed being concerned about walking through the park after dark with her friend on earlier occasions. 

She told the court: “It was out of character for Sabina to walk through Cator Park after dark.”

She added: “It seems likely that she chose to walk across the park that night because she was running late and this was the quickest route to get to The Depot bar.” 

Prosecutor Ms Morgan described the final moments of Ms Nessa’s life in detail in an earlier hearing.

She said: “The defendant is seen in effect loitering in locations around the park before spotting the deceased, checking to see if anyone else was nearby before turning and running after her.

“He is then seen to move towards the deceased and striking her repeatedly using a weapon which was approximately 2ft in length.

“The CCTV footage shows the defendant then carrying the deceased, who appeared to be unconscious by that point, up a bank and effectively out of sight.”

Selamaj’s actions afterwards were out of shot but Ms Nessa was never seen alive again.

The prosecutor said: “The male did appear after 10 minutes.

“He is seen to pick up pieces of the weapon that had broken on the ground and then moved back to the area the deceased was located for another 10 minutes.”

The court heard he removed Ms Nessa’s tights and underwear and pulled up her clothes, leaving parts of he body exposed. 

He was also seen using wet wipes to clean a nearby bench shortly before 21:00.

On his way back to the south coast, Selamaj stopped in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where he disposed of the emergency triangle he had used as a weapon in the River Teise.

At the time of the murder, Selamaj was married to a Romanian woman and worked at a garage on Brighton Road in Lewes, Sussex. 

He had no criminal record either in the UK or abroad. 

The devastating murder of Ms Nessa sparked fresh concerns for the safety of women and girls in the capital.

Hundreds of people joined a vigil in Kidbrooke in the days after the school teacher’s death, with her family leading tributes.

Her sister Jebina Yasmin Islam said: “We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister.”

The attack came just months after the killing of Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and murdered by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens on 2 March 2021.

It also followed the murder of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicola Smallman by 19-year-old Danyal Hussein, who stabbed the women to death at Fryent Country Park in Wimbley on 6 June.

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