Sabina Nessa's sister brands murderer 'coward' as he refuses to face family in court

7 April 2022, 16:13 | Updated: 7 April 2022, 18:31

Koci Selamaj, 36, has pleaded guilty to murdering primary school teacher Sabina Nessa
Koci Selamaj, 36, has pleaded guilty to murdering primary school teacher Sabina Nessa. Picture: JustGiving/Metropolitan Police

By Daisy Stephens

The man who murdered schoolteacher Sabina Nessa has been branded a coward by the victim's sister after refusing to appear in court to be sentenced.

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Koci Selamaj, 36, pleaded guilty to murdering the 28-year-old in a park in Kidbrooke, south east London.

Selamaj, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, declined to attend his sentencing at the Old Bailey today, preferring to stay in his cell, leading to Sabina's sister to brand him a "coward".

He has been sent to Broadmoor Hospital for a mental health assessment.

Addressing Selamaj, Jabina Islam said in court: "You are an awful human being and do not deserve your name to be said. You are a disgusting animal."

When the judge asked Selamaj's barrister why he killed Ms Nessa, the lawyer said there was none.

"He simply accepts he did it and will forever sadly remain silent," he said.

Mr Justice Sweeney allowed the sentencing to go ahead in his absence, which has now been adjourned to Friday morning.

Read more: Man admits murder of London primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Read more: 'My beautiful sister. My inspiration' Sabina’s devastated sister pays tribute

The court played CCTV showing how Selamaj waited in the park for 25 minutes with his hood up before Ms Nessa arrived.

He had previously bought items from Sainsbury's including a rolling pin, which was later recovered from the wheel well of the boot of his car.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said he had picked up the rolling pin and gone back to his car when he realised a "better weapon" was an emergency triangle.

In grainy footage, Ms Nessa appeared "oblivious" as Selamaj ran up behind her and attacked her with the triangle on the path near a park bench.

He hit her over the head 34 times with his weapon, which broke apart as he rendered Ms Nessa unconscious.

Selamaj then dragged her up a slope and out of view for 10 minutes.

Ms Morgan said the defendant asphyxiated her and removed her tights and underwear before trying to cover her body in grass.

He returned to Ms Nessa's body for another 10 minutes.

Selamaj used wet wipes to clean the park bench before leaving the park.

On his way back to Eastbourne, Selamaj disposed of the emergency triangle in the River Teise in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Ms Morgan invited the court to conclude there was a sexual motive for the killing, even though there was no "positive" evidence of a sexual assault.

Sabina Nessa's parents Abdur Rouf and Azibun Nessa said their world "shattered into pieces" when they were told their daughter had died.

"As a parent you would never have thought that your child would die before you, not in a way our Sabina died," they said in a statement.

Addressing her killer, they said: "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."

They described Ms Nessa as kind, funny and determined.

Reading her statement, Sabina Nessa's sister Ms Islam called Selamaj a "coward" for not facing up to his crime in court.

"You are an awful human being and do not deserve your name to be said," she said.

"You are a disgusting animal."

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

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

Head teacher Lisa Williams also paid tribute to Ms Nessa and described the "devastating" impact on Rushey Green Primary School, where Ms Nessa taught a Year One class.

In a statement, she said the school was in "utter shock".

She said Ms Nessa was a "happy, hard-working" teacher who had a "fulfilling career ahead of her".

On Ms Nessa's class of 30 students, she said: "For the rest of their lives, these young children 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."

The court heard how Ms Nessa had previously discussed concerns about walking through Cator Park, where she was killed.

But Ms Morgan said she likely chose to walk through it that day "because she was running late and this was the quickest route to get to the Depot Bar", where she was meeting a friend for a drink.

Read more: Teacher Sabina Nessa, 28, murdered on way to see friend, was planning ‘new life in Dubai’

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Ms Morgan said Selamaj had a history of violence against his former wife.

After leaving him, his wife told colleagues at the hotel where she worked that he had tried to strangle her.

Ms Morgan said she had been "devastated" by what Selamaj had done to Ms Nessa, and commended her courage in coming forward.

The court heard how Selamaj had booked a room at The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne for Friday September 17 last year - the day Ms Nessa was killed.

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

At about 6pm that day, Selamaj contacted his estranged partner.

In a statement, she said 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 and left, the court was told.

Selamaj will be sentenced tomorrow.