Sabina’s body was found on a Saturday afternoon – September 18 – by a member of the public at Cator Park near OneSpace community centre on Kidbrooke Park Road in southeast London. Police officers were called at 5.32pm that day, after her body lay undiscovered for almost 24 hours.
The body was identified as that of Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old primary school teacher who had headed out around 8.30pm the previous evening and had been meant to meet a friend after taking a five-minute long walk through the southeast London park.
Detectives investigating the murder of Sabina released CCTV video footage of a man urgently being sought by police.
Scotland Yard footage and moving CCTV still captures of the man showed him walking in Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, south-east London, on the evening the 28-year-old was attacked.
The 12-second clip showed a balding man wearing a black hooded coat and grey jeans looking over his shoulder and pulling at his hood as he walks down a path.
Family and friends of Sabina, as well as strangers demanding an end to violence against women, gathered in Peglar Square, Kidbrooke, on the Friday evening following the discovery of her body, in memory of the 28-year-old teacher.
Hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects at the vigil, which was held by Reclaim These Streets.
Relatives encouraged people to light a candle on their doorstep at 7pm, if they could not join in person. Jebina Yasmin Islam, Sabina’s sister, broke down as she addressed crowds at the vigil.
She said: “I just want to say thank you to everyone who came today to show support for my sister. “We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early.”
Detectives investigating the murder of Ms Nessa arrested a 38-year-old man on suspicion of murder in what Scotland Yard said was a “significant development”. Met Police announced the arrest on Sunday morning, just over a week after the primary school teacher was found dead in a south London park.
The force said he was arrested at around 3am on Sunday in East Sussex. Selamaj denied murdering Ms Nessa but told the court he accepts that he killed her.
The 36-year-old was accused of carrying out what the prosecution alleges was a “pre-meditated and predatory” attack. The defendant entered a formal not guilty plea to murder.
Addressing defence barrister Aidan Harvey, Mr Justice Wall said: “Is there any dispute your client killed Ms Nessa?”
Mr Harvey replied: “There is not, my Lord. He accepts he killed her.”
A man has been convicted of murdering schoolteacher Sabina Nessa after a police investigation provided irrefutable evidence of his guilt.
Koci Selamaj 36 (04.05.85) travelled from Eastbourne to Cator Park in Kidbrooke where he hid in bushes until he saw 28-year-old Sabina, who he had never met or had any links to.
He carried out a brutal and sustained attack, using a metal traffic warning sign as the murder weapon, before hiding her body and driving home. A major investigation, involving officers from across the Met, led to Selamaj’s identification, arrest and finally to his conviction today at the Old Bailey.
DCI Neil John, who led the investigation into Sabina’s murder, said: “Selamaj’s senseless attack cut short the life of a completely innocent woman who had so much to look forward to. Her family and friends have had their lives turned upside down and my thoughts will always remain with them. I can never imagine the pain they have gone through or how they have found the strength to come to court and relive what happened to Sabina. They are truly remarkable.
“This case was a truly collaborative effort, from forensic teams gathering vital evidence, to officers trawling through hundreds of hours of CCTV. This left Selamaj with no choice but to plead guilty and I know it is a great relief to Sabina’s family that they do not have to sit through a lengthy trial.
“Selamaj’s actions did not only affect one family or one community. They struck at the heart of the fears of many women who should have the right to walk in our open spaces safely, no matter the time of day or the location. Right across the Met there is a relentless effort to tackle violence against women and girls and to bring those who perpetrate these crimes to justice.”
Selamaj will be sentenced on Thursday, 7 April at the Old Bailey.
Helen Ellwood, CPS London Homicide prosecutor, said: “Sabina Nessa was 28 years old when her life was cut short as a result of truly evil violence inflicted upon her as she walked through a park.
“Koci Selamaj has shown little remorse for this premeditated and predatory attack on a lone woman who was a stranger to him. His cowardly actions devastated a family and caused immeasurable pain to all those who knew and loved Sabina.
“The prosecution was able to build the strongest possible case resulting in Selamaj admitting his guilt as a result of a meticulous investigation led by the Metropolitan Police Service which included an extensive review of CCTV footage and detailed forensic work.
“The CPS is committed to prosecuting violence against women and girls and we hope this conviction provides some sense of justice for the family and friends of Sabina Nessa. Our thoughts remain very much with them at this time.”
The Met fully appreciates that Sabina’s murder and other shocking incidents have heightened concerns about violence against women and girls in London. We completely share that concern and that is why tackling violence, including crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls, remains our top priority. Our commitment has not wavered and we will not stop our relentless efforts. Actions we have taken to make our streets safer over the last 18 months:
+Established Predatory Offenders’ Units across London to arrest and charge those who carry out violence, much of it domestic or sexual. Since November 2020 they have arrested over 2,500 suspects of which over half of cases were related to domestic abuse.
+We are in the process of deploying 650 new officers into new Town Centre teams, working in city centres and high streets, meaning communities will see local officers in their local areas. We know that to be effective we need to work side by side with Londoners and that greater police visibility will increase confidence.
+Last year we set up a number of ‘walk and talk’ schemes in BCUs where neighbourhood officers buddied up with women in the community to hear about any locations in which they feel vulnerable and start discussions about how these concerns can be alleviated. We have today (Friday, 25 February ) announced that this scheme will be rolled out across the capital.
+We have stepped up patrols of open spaces across London and transport hubs, providing an increased police intelligence where needed in key hotspot locations
+ We are also working closely with the hospitality sector and those involved in the night-time economy to raise awareness of how they can help keep women safe in their premises. We reinvigorated Ask for Angela to provide people feeling unsafe or vulnerable with a discreet way of asking for help from venue staff. Welfare and safety training has given to hundreds of staff working in bars and clubs.
We asked the public what more they would like to see us doing and they will see we have acted on that feedback when we publish our updated Violence against Women and Girls plan at the end of March. We are ambitious and are transforming – we are listening to experiences of women and girls, we are acting on the findings from independent reviews and we are learning from other forces.