Sabina Nessa’s killer, Koci Selamaj, sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 36 years
A sexual predator was jailed for life for the murder of elementary school teacher Sabina Nessa and will serve a minimum sentence of 36 years in prison.
Koci Selamaj, 36, declined to appear at the Old Bailey in person or via video link, meaning he did not hear the Nessa family’s impassioned tributes to the 28-year-old.
Ms Nessa’s sister, Jebina Islam, called the killer an ‘animal’ and said the fact he was not in the dock proved just how cowardly he was.
After the sentencing, she said: “What an emotional and exhausting last two days for us.
“Words cannot describe how we feel even though he has been sentenced to life. Forever in our hearts and we will continue to say your name.”
Selamaj attacked Ms Nessa in Cator Park, south-east London, in September last year as she passed by to meet a friend.
CCTV footage captured the moment Selamaj attacked Ms Nessa by hitting her in the head 34 times with a 2ft long metal warning triangle, before dragging her away unconscious. He then strangled her before covering her body with grass.
Selamaj was arrested in Eastbourne a few days later and charged with her death. He pleaded guilty to her murder in February.
Sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday, Judge Sweeney said Ms Nessa was “the utterly blameless victim of an utterly appalling murder which was entirely the fault of the defendant – which added to the sense of insecurity that people , especially women, have lived in our cities walking or traveling alone, especially at night”.
He linked the murder to the murder of Sarah Everard and agreed with the prosecution that Selamaj enjoyed the sexually motivated attack.
Mr Sweeney added: “The circumstances of the attack, involving the targeting of a vulnerable lone woman at night in circumstances which have raised considerable public concern for the safety of the women – particularly following the killing by Sarah Everard six months earlier.”
Selamaj had booked a £352-a-night hotel room at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne on the night of the murder, which happened to be in the same place his ex-wife was living.
She escaped the abusive relationship and even spent time sleeping on the beach in Sussex to avoid being around Selamaj, who repeatedly strangled her.
The killer had attempted to have sex with her in his car in the hours before his attack and drove around Brighton looking for a sexual encounter before heading north to London.
He stopped at a Sainsbury’s in the village of Kidbrooke and bought a rolling pin, which he intended to use as a murder weapon.
But on returning to the car, he found what the Crown says was a “better weapon” – the emergency traffic triangle found in the wheel arch of his car’s trunk.
With his new weapon, he waited in the dark at Cator Park, and Mrs. Nessa had the misfortune to cross his path.
After dumping Ms Nessa’s body, he returned to Eastbourne and stayed at the hotel, leaving just before 10 a.m. to continue his life as a mechanic at an Esso in Lewes.
Hours after he strangled Ms Nessa and stripped off her pantyhose and underwear, he messaged a WhatsApp group of his colleagues to say they were out of coffee pods and blue roll.
Nine days after the attack, he was arrested.
He eventually pleaded guilty to murder, but never offered an explanation for his actions.
Selamaj left school aged 12 with no qualifications and came to the UK from Albania seven years ago.
Pressed by the judge, Judge Sweeney, for not explaining what he had done, the defense said: “We would all like to know why he did it. There is just no answer.
“He just accepts that he did, and that question will unfortunately forever remain silent.”
Selamaj has been transferred to Broadmoor – a high security psychiatric hospital.