Sabina Nessa murderer Koci Selamaj sentenced to life in prison

Sabina Nessa
Primary school teacher Sabina Nessa was murdered as she walked to meet a friend. Credit: PA Images

The 'predatory' man who murdered primary school teacher Sabina Nessa has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 36 years.

Koci Selamaj refused to come to the Old Bailey on Friday - as he had done on Thursday - and was jailed for life in his absence.

Mr Justice Sweeney set a minimum term of 36 years for the “savage” sexually motivated attack.

He said Ms Nessa was the “wholly blameless victim of an absolutely appalling murder which was entirely the fault of the defendant.”

In a victim impact statement on Thursday, Jabina Islam described her sister was an "amazing role model" who was "powerful, fearless, bright and just an amazing soul".

Directly addressing her sister's killer, Ms Islam said: "You are an awful human being and do not deserve your name to be said.

"You are a disgusting animal."

CCTV footage released by Met Police shows Koci Selamaj's movements before and after the murder of Sabina Nessa

On the day of the murder, Koci Selamaj lurked around Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London, before targeting 28-year-old Ms Nessa as she was walking to meet a friend on 17 September last year.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said it was "out of character for Sabina to walk in Cator Park after dark".

“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,” Ms Morgan said.

CCTV footage captured the moment Selamaj attacked Ms Nessa by striking her over the head 34 times with a two foot-long metal traffic triangle, before carrying her away unconscious.

He then pulled up her clothes, removed her tights and underwear and strangled her before covering her body in grass.

Koci Selamaj pleaded guilty to murder Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

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

Selamaj, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, was arrested in the seaside town and charged over her death days later.

In February, the Albanian national pleaded guilty to murder.

At an earlier hearing, Ms Morgan QC said Selamaj had been violent towards his ex-partner in the past, including throttling her a number of times.

Three days before the attack on Ms Nessa, the defendant booked a room at the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, the town where he already had accommodation.

On 17 September, he booked into the hotel and, two hours before the murder, contacted his former partner in a failed bid to engage her in sexual activity.

The defendant’s Nissan Micra was tracked by ANPR cameras and cell site evidence travelling to London.

He entered Cator Park in Kidbrooke shortly after 8pm and lay in wait for half-an-hour before Ms Nessa arrived en route to The Depot bar where she was due to meet a friend.

Floral tributes at Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south London Credit: Laura Parnaby/PA

Selamaj’s actions afterwards were out of camera shot, but Ms Nessa was not seen alive again.

Selamaj was also seen using wet wipes to clean a nearby bench.

En route back to the south coast, Selamaj stopped in the area of Tunbridge Wells in Kent where he disposed of the emergency triangle in the River Teise.

The murder of Ms Nessa heightened concern for the safety of women and girls in the capital following the stranger murders of Sarah Everard, and sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

In her victim statement, Ms Islam said: "You are an awful human being and do not deserve your name to be said. You are a disgusting animal."

Supporters from the Sabina Project outside the Old Bailey on Thursday. Credit: PA

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

She described being haunted by images of what her sister went through in her last moments. 

Abdur Rouf and Azibun Nessa said in a statement: “As a parent you would never have thought that your child would die before you, not in a way our Sabina died.”

Addressing their daughter's killer, they said: “You had no right to take her away from us in such a cruel way.

“The moment the police officer came to our house and told her she was found dead our world shattered into pieces.

“How could you do such a thing to an innocent girl walking by, minding her own business. You are not a human being, you are an animal.”

Members of Sabina Nessa's family with supporters outside the Old Bailey, central London, after Koci Selamaj has been jailed for life. Credit: PA

Head teacher Lisa Williams described the “devastating” impact on Ms Nessa’s school who she said was a “happy, hard-working” teacher who had a “fulfilling career ahead of her”.

In a statement, she said Ms Nessa’s primary school was in “utter shock”.

The judge noted the defendant’s guilty plea and lack of previous convictions.

But he added: “It is a striking feature of the defendant’s case that, clearly deliberately, it is not suggested by him that he had any remorse for what he did to Sabina Nessa.”

The judge said it was “cowardly” of the Albanian national to refuse to attend his sentencing but said he had no power to force him.

Following the sentencing, Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Neil John described Selamaj as an “evil coward”.

He said: “It is highly unusual for someone to go from zero to a crime of this magnitude.

“We are pleased Selamaj will spend the majority of his life in prison.”