CCTV footage captured the moment Koci Selamaj swiftly overwhelmed Ms Nessa by repeatedly striking her.
25 February 2022
A “predatory” man has pleaded guilty to murdering primary school teacher Sabina Nessa.
Koci Selamaj, 36, drove to London from his home in Eastbourne on the south coast to carry out a pre-meditated attack on a woman with “extreme violence”.
The garage worker lurked around Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east, London, before targeting 28-year-old Ms Nessa as she passed through on her way to meet a friend on September 17 last year.
CCTV footage captured the moment Selamaj swiftly overwhelmed Ms Nessa by repeatedly striking her with a 2ft long weapon believed to be a traffic triangle, before carrying her away unconscious.
It is alleged that Selamaj then strangled her in undergrowth in what was suspected to be a sexually-motivated attack.
The body of Ms Nessa, who taught a year one class at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, was found nearly 24 hours later covered with grass 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.
At an Old Bailey hearing on Friday, Selamaj, an Albanian national, pleaded guilty to murder.
At a previous hearing, Alison Morgan QC said: “The prosecution allege this was a premediated and predatory attack on a stranger.”
Ms Morgan said the attack was carried out with “extreme violence”.
The defendant had no previous convictions and was not known to his victim.
Ms Nessa had made plans to meet a friend at The Depot bar in Kidbrooke Village on the evening of September 17.
From her home, her route took her through Cator Park where Selamaj was waiting.
Ms Morgan said: “Some of her movements through the park and the attack on her were captured on CCTV footage.
“The male shown on that CCTV footage is alleged to be this defendant.”
Three days before, the defendant put his plan into action by booking a room at the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, the town where he already had accommodation.
His reservation was for the night of September 17 and he arrived earlier in the day to check in.
He spoke to hotel staff and was captured walking through the lobby wearing the same clothes as the suspect later caught on CCTV in Kidbrooke.
The defendant’s Nissan Micra was tracked by ANPR cameras and cell site evidence was gathered to identify his movements from Eastbourne to south London later that day.
The evidence showed the defendant also used his bank card at Sainsbury’s in Kidbrooke.
He was captured in footage wearing “distinctive” trainers with a thick white sole which were later seized from his house and found to have blood traces on them.
The defendant entered Cator Park shortly after 8pm and lay in wait for half an hour before Ms Nessa arrived.
Ms Morgan 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.
“In fact it was a weapon which appeared to break up during the course of the many strikes on the deceased.
“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 camera shot, but Ms Nessa was not 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.”
Shortly before 9pm, Selamaj was seen using wet wipes to clean a bench.
Ms Nessa was discovered dead the following day covered in grass.
Phone data and traffic cameras captured the defendant returning to Eastbourne, arriving at the £170-a-night Grand Hotel just after midnight.
He stayed the night at the hotel and checked out in the morning.
Selamaj was arrested at his home in Eastbourne on September 26.
In a police interview, the defendant made no comment except to deny murder when asked directly if he was responsible for killing Ms Nessa.
Earlier this year, a lawyer for the Selamaj confirmed that he accepted being the person caught on CCTV and that he had hit Ms Nessa a number of times.
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.
Previously, Ms Nessa’s family have said: “No family should ever have to go through this. We need our leaders to step up, and we need our communities to step up.
“We need our country to step up and stand with us and say no more violence against women.
“We also hope that everyone remembers Sabina as the joyful, happy, dedicated person that loved teaching and contributing to the community that she loved dearly.”