Sabina Nessa: Family call absent-from-court murderer a cowardon April 7, 2022 at 4:41 pm

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Koci Selamaj, who beat and strangled 28-year-old teacher Sabina Nessa, refuses to attend sentencing.

Sabina Nessa

Image source, Met Police

The family of murdered primary school teacher Sabina Nessa has branded her killer a “disgusting animal” and a “coward” at his sentencing hearing, which he refused to attend.

Koci Selamaj, 36, beat and strangled the 28-year-old as she walked through Cator Park, south London, in September.

Selamaj, who did not know Ms Nessa, pleaded guilty to murder in February.

Ms Nessa’s sister Jabina Islam called Selamaj an “awful human”. Sentencing at the Old Bailey was adjourned to Friday.

Speaking in court, Ms Islam labelled Selamaj a “coward” for not facing up to his crime at the hearing.

She said: “You are an awful human being and do not deserve your name to be said. You are a disgusting animal.”

‘Amazing soul’

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

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

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.

“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.”

The head teacher where their daughter had worked said the school was in “utter shock” and described Ms Nessa as a “happy, hard-working” teacher who had a “fulfilling career ahead of her”.

Koci Selamaj

Image source, Met Police

Ms Nessa had left her home on 17 September to meet a friend at a bar when she was targeted by Selamaj, who was said to have driven to London from his home in Eastbourne to carry out “a predatory attack on a stranger”.

The court heard the Albanian national carried out the murder with “extreme violence”, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said. The court heard the murder involved a sexual or sadistic element.

CCTV footage played in court showed Selamaj had spotted Ms Nessa and checked to see if there was anyone else around.

He then ran towards his victim and struck her 34 times using a metal traffic triangle.

The defendant then carried her away unconscious before strangling her in the park in Kidbrooke and removing her tights and underwear. He then tried to cover her body in grass, the court heard.

He disposed of the weapon in a river on his way back to Eastbourne.

Well-wishers attend a vigil for 28 year-old teacher Sabina Nessa

Image source, Getty Images

Three days before the attack, he booked a room at the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne.

Ms Morgan suggested the booking of a room at the hotel near his home was “indicative of his premeditation to have some kind of sexual encounter that evening”.

Met with ex-partner

On the day of the attack, Selamaj met his former partner, who told the court he appeared “very agitated” when they met at his car near the hotel.

She said: “I think that he wanted to have sex in the car. I don’t know what was bothering him, but he was very agitated.”

She refused to join him on the back seat and left, the court was told.

Supporters from the Sabina Project outside the Old Bailey, central London

Image source, PA Media

Head teacher Lisa Williams also described the “devastating” impact the primary school teacher’s murder had had on pupils.

Her class of 30 students “will never be able to comprehend why someone murdered their teacher and the world in which they live is not safe for them to play in a park,” she said in a statement.

Refused to talk

Selamaj initially refused to comment in police interviews but when he was charged, he asked: “What will happen if I open up now and say everything?”

In mitigation, Lewis Power QC said Selamaj’s family, who had attended court, were in “shock and total disbelief”.

He said his client had provided no explanation for why he murdered Ms Nessa, adding: “He simply accepts that he did it.”

Mr Justice Sweeney said the “inevitable” sentence would be life in prison, with a starting minimum term of 30 years.

Sentencing is expected to take place on Friday.

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