Sabina Nessa 'was murdered while on five-minute walk to meet friend' at London pub

23 September 2021, 11:43 | Updated: 23 September 2021, 13:09

Sabina Nessa was killed while walking to meeting a friend, police say
Sabina Nessa was killed while walking to meeting a friend, police say. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A primary school teacher was murdered while she was on a five-minute walk to meet a friend at a pub, police believe.

Sabina Nessa's killing in South East London has caused horror and outrage and increased focus on the violence women face.

A community group has distributed information about how women can stay safe at night while personal alarms were distributed to women in the area where Ms Nessa died.

Police have said they are investigating if the attacker was a stranger and fear he could strike again – though that is uncertain.

Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry said the "streets are safe for women" in London.

DCI Lawry, when asked about safety concerns and chances of a repeat of the attack, said: "It's always a concern that it may happen, but that's not something that we have any intelligence on at this time."

When asked whether he believes a stranger was behind the attack, he said: "That's definitely a line of inquiry that we're looking at."

Detectives are keeping an "open mind" over the attacker’s motive and he refused to divulge any leads.

Asked about policing in the wake of Sarah Everard's killing earlier in the year, the officer said: "I think the main things that are changing are that, one, we're listening to people, we're understanding where people are feeling not so safe, and we're putting out patrols to make sure that we do that.

"This isn't just a policing issue, there's lots of issues to be able to make people feel safe in an open space and we're working with our partners to ensure we do that."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said violence against women needs to be treated with the same level of priority as counter-terrorism following the murder of Ms Nessa.

"I think this deserves the same priority as counter-terrorism," he told reporters.

"I agree with the inspectorate who called this an epidemic. It is an epidemic and I think it is really important that people like me, who have not had the lived experiences of women and girls, listen to the experiences of women and girls and work with them to have policies that address this awful issue."

Ms Nessa, 28, is believed to have left her home in Astell Road in Kidbrooke shortly before 8.30pm on Friday, September 17.

Detectives think she had walked through Cator Park towards The Depot, in Pegler Square, where she had planned to meet a friend.

However, the teacher never arrived and police believe she was murdered as she walked through the park.

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The route Nessa could travel to get to the pub - a very short distance from her flat
The route Nessa could travel to get to the pub - a very short distance from her flat. Picture: Google Maps

Her body was found in the afternoon of the following day, close to the OneSpace community centre in the park.

Detective Inspector Joe Garrity said: "Our investigation is making good progress and specialist officers remain at the crime scene carrying out intensive searches and enquiries.

"We are incredibly grateful for all of those who have so far come forward and spoken to us but we believe there are still others out there who may have information that could help.

"If you think you saw Sabina or any suspicious behaviour in or around the park on Friday evening please speak to us.

The 28-year-old was found dead in a park near her home
The 28-year-old was found dead in a park near her home. Picture: Alamy

"Sabina's journey should have taken just over five minutes but she never made it to her destination. We know the community are rightly shocked by this murder – as are we – and we are using every resource available to us to find the individual responsible."

A post-mortem was inconclusive.

Ms Nessa's cousin, Zubel Ahmed, said the family was "inconsolable".

"She was due to go and see her family at the weekend and even that... she couldn't even do that one last time unfortunately," he told ITV News.

Anyone with information should call the Met's incident room on 0208 721 4266 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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