'Predatory' garage worker Koci Selamaj admits to Sabina Nessa murder

The primary school teacher was murdered as she walked through a London park last year

Sabina Nessa's murder followed that of Sarah Everard and intensified calls for more to be done to protect women from violent men. PA

A Albanian garage worker has pleaded guilty to murdering UK primary school teacher Sabina Nessa in a London park.

Koci Selamaj 36, drove to London from his home in Eastbourne on the south coast to carry out a premeditated attack on a woman with "extreme violence".

He lurked around Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London, before targeting Nessa, 28, as she passed through on her way to meet a friend on September 17 last year.

CCTV footage captured the moment Selamaj swiftly overwhelmed Nessa by repeatedly striking her with a 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 Nessa, who taught a Year 1 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 citizen, pleaded guilty to murder.

An artist's impression of Koci Selamaj appearing via video-link from Wormwood Scrubs prison. PA

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.

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.

"Some of her movements through the park and the attack on her were captured on CCTV footage," Ms Morgan said.

"The male shown on that CCTV footage is alleged to be this defendant."

The Crown Prosecutions Services' Hellen Ellwood outside the Old Bailey in London with members of Nessa's family after Koci Selamajj's guilty plea. PA

Koci Selamaj's murderous vacation

Three days before, Selemaj had begun to 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 thatwere later seized from his house and found to have traces of blood on them.

The defendant entered Cator Park shortly after 8pm and lay in wait for half an hour before Nessa arrived.

"The defendant is seen in effect loitering in locations around the park before spotting the [intended victim], checking to see if anyone else was near by before turning and running after her," Ms Morgan said.

"He is then seen to move towards the deceased and striking her repeatedly using a weapon which was approximately 2ft [0.6m] in length.

Police comb Cator Park for evidence after the discovery of Sabina Nessa's body. PA

"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 after that were out of camera shot, but Nessa was not seen alive again.

He appeared again 10 minutes later and was captured picking up pieces of the weapon that had broken on the ground before moving back to the area where Nessa was located for another 10 minutes.

Shortly before 9pm, he was seen using wet wipes to clean a bench.

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 Nessa.

Earlier this year, a lawyer for Selamaj confirmed that he accepted being the person caught on CCTV and that he had hit Nessa a number of times.

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

Previously, Nessa's family called on the "country to step up and stand with us and say no more violence against women".

Updated: February 25, 2022, 4:13 PM
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