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Koci Selamaj pleads guilty to murder of primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Koci Selamaj pleads guilty to murder of primary school teacher Sabina Nessa
Defendant killed 28-year-old primary school teacher in south-east London in September

A “predatory” garage worker has admitted murdering primary school teacher Sabina Nessa after travelling to London to carry out an “extreme” sex attack on a stranger.

Koci Selamaj, 36, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Friday afternoon to killing the 28-year-old in September last year.

He had driven from Eastbourne, on the south coast, to the capital to carry out the pre-meditated attack.

After lying in wait for 30 minutes, Selamaj targeted Ms Nessa, who he did not know, as she walked to meet a friend in Kidbrooke, southeast London. Her body was found in Cator Park almost 24 hours later.

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.

The Albanian national admitted strangling the teacher in what is believed to have been a sexually motivated attack.

Alison Morgan QC, who led the prosecution, described the assault as “a premediated and predatory attack on a stranger”, which was carried out with “extreme violence”.

Selamaj was arrested at his home in Eastbourne on 26 September after being identified as the man who was captured on CCTV attacking Ms Nessa.

The primary school teacher’s murder fuelled growing calls to make the UK safer for women following the killings of Sarah Everard and sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman elsewhere in London.

Speaking outside court, Ms Nessa‘s sister Jebina Islam broke down in tears as told how the guilty plea was “difficult to digest”.

She said it was a “step in the right direction” but did not bring her sister back.

She said: “We as a family are broken and there is not a day that goes by that we do not think of her.

“There are no words to describe the pain we are going through and the pain which he has caused.

“The fact we will never know the motive for why he killed our sister is not only frustrating but heartbreaking.

“No family should go through what we are going through, and each day is not getting any easier.”

Ms Nessa had made plans to meet a friend at The Depot bar in Kidbrooke Village on the evening of 17 September. 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.

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.

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.

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 Selamaj confirmed that he accepted being the person caught on CCTV and that he had hit Ms Nessa a number of times.

Helen Ellwood, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Sabina Nessa was 28 years old when her life was cut short as a result of truly evil violence inflicted on her as she walked through a park.

“Koci Selamaj has shown little remorse for his premeditated and predatory attack on a lone woman who was a stranger to him.

“His cowardly actions have devastated a family and caused immeasurable pain to all those who knew and loved Sabina.”

Mr Justice Sweeney adjourned sentencing until 7 April.

Additional reporting by PA