Sabina Nessa: Lights in the darkness at Eastbourne vigil for murdered school teacher

Credit: PA

An emotional vigil honouring school teacher Sabina Nessa has been held in Eastbourne, the seaside town where the man suspected of her murder was arrested last month.

As the sun set on the golden dome of the pier stretching out to sea, around 200 people gathered to pay tribute and protest the “crisis” of violence against women.

The peaceful demonstration was marked by cheers and applause as those addressing the crowd spoke out against victim blaming.

Later, the darkening sky was lit with the lights from dozens of mobile phones, as a minute’s silence was held for Ms Nessa.

People held up lights as it grew dark. Credit: PA

The 28-year-old teacher had been walking to meet a friend at a pub near her home when she was fatally attacked.

The journey should have taken just five minutes, but instead she was killed in Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London.

Her body was found nearly 24 hours later covered with leaves near a community centre in the park.

Tuesday’s vigil comes amid continuing public outrage and debate over women's safety and policing.

Credit: PA

Speaking to those gathered on the seafront on Tuesday evening, co-organiser Natasha Peacock said: “Sabina Nessa should still be alive. She was loved and she will be deeply missed.”

Many of those attending held pictures of Ms Nessa, while others carried signs calling out male violence or remembering Sarah Everard.

One placard read “When will women be safe?” while another said: “She was just walking home”.

Some held placards. Credit: PA

Natasha continued: “Women are frightened for their lives.

“We are having to consider the risk of going out alone past 6pm and potentially getting, attacked, raped or murdered and the advice to flag down busses does not make us feel safe.

“This is a crisis. We need to make the safety of women and girls a priority.”

The peaceful demonstration in front of the town’s Victorian pier continued for about an hour, with various speakers addressing the crowd.

Around 7pm, those gathered paused in thoughtful reflection as a Muslim prayer was read out.

Credit: PA

The vigil came to an end with a minute’s silence for Ms Nessa, as people raised their phone torches into the air in the gathering dark.

Koci Selamaj was arrested in the East Sussex town in the early hours of September 26.

A light-coloured Nissan Micra was seized in a leafy residential street about half-a-mile away.

Selamaj, 36, from Eastbourne, has indicated that he will deny the charge of murder.

He has been remanded in custody ahead of a plea hearing on December 16.