Sabina Nessa: Koci Selamaj sentenced to life in prison for her “savage” murder

Sabina Nessa: Koci Selamaj sentenced to life in prison for her “savage” murder

Koci Selamaj was handed an “inevitable” life sentence for the murder of Sabina Nessa in September 2021.

Sabina Nessa’s killer Koci Selamaj was yesterday jailed for life and handed a 36-year minimum prison term after the court found that he gained “considerable pleasure” from attacking the 28-year-old in a London park.

The Old Bailey heard that Selamaj attacked her from behind and struck her repeatedly with a metal warning triangle before carrying her unconscious from the path and strangling her.

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Mr Justice Sweeney called the murder “savage”, adding: “Sabina Nessa was the wholly blameless victim of an absolutely appalling murder which was entirely the fault of the defendant who has added to the sense of insecurity that people, particularly women, have living in our cities when walking or travelling alone, especially at night.”

“She died in a way that no one should, and that will torment them all, and Sabina’s friends, for the rest of their lives,” the judge told the court.

“It is a striking feature of the defendant’s case that, clearly deliberately, it is not suggested by him that he has any remorse for what he did to Sabina Nessa.”

Tributes left for Nessa in Kidbrooke Park, south-east London following her murder
Tributes left for Nessa in Kidbrooke Park, south-east London following her murder

Following the sentencing, Nessa’s sister Jebina shared a short statement on Twitter, writing: “What an emotional and draining last two days have been for us. Words cannot describe how we are feeling even though he got life sentence. Forever in our hearts sis and will continue to say your name.”

Charity Women’s Aid said that they stood “in solidarity with Sabina Nessa’s family, who we know will also suffer lifelong impact from Sabina’s death,” adding:

“The murder of Sabina is devastating and it is appalling she was yet another woman who could not walk alone safely at night. Women should be safe wherever they are, at home and in public. We must see urgent change.

“We need action taken on commitments made by the police and criminal justice system to tackle violence against women as a priority. Women need to be safe both inside and outside the home, with consistent sentencing reflecting the severity of the crime and repeat offenders identified and monitored.

“We must face up to and challenge the misogyny and sexism inherent in society, which is the root of all violence against women. We cannot accept more women dying at the hands of violent men. At Women’s Aid, we will not stop campaigning for change- until all women and girls are safe.”

On the first day of the court hearing to sentence her murderer, the parents of Sabina Nessa had called her killer an “animal” who had “no right to touch her”.

Reading a statement in court, Nessa’s parents, Abdur Rouf and Azibun Nessa, said they had struggled sleeping and were plagued by thoughts of their daughter’s violent last moments, when she must have been “scared” and alone.

Addressing Selamaj, they condemned his refusal to answer questions or give evidence, adding: “You are not a human being, you are an animal … how could you do such a thing?”

“You had no right to take our daughter’s life away and no right to touch her,” the statement added. “Not knowing why you carried out this murder will remain on our minds.”

The family of Sabina Nessa at a vigil for her in September 2021
The family of Sabina Nessa at a vigil for her in September 2021

In a joint statement, Nessa’s sisters, Jabina Islam and Sadia Ness spoke of how they’d “been told that Sabina was in the wrong place at the wrong time. “But she wasn’t,” Ms Islam said. “She had every right to be walking down that path.”

“From a young age our parents tell us to be careful when going out, always be together with someone, to text when we’re home. We all thought they were paranoid and being too protective. They weren’t, the worst came true. How can we convince our parents that we are safe in this world?”

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What is happening in the sentencing of Sabina Nessa’s murderer?

Koci Selamaj was handed what the judge had called an “inevitable” life sentence for the brutal killing of Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old primary school teacher, on 17 September 2021. He will serve a minimum term of 36 years in prison.

While he has pleaded guilty to murder, Selamaj did not answer questions during police interviews or mount any defence explaining his actions. Asked by the judge whether he had given any reason for his actions, his lawyer said there was “simply no answer”.

“I am not able to put forward a defence or partial defence,” he added. “He simply accepts that he did it … I can’t assist the court.”

During the sentencing hearing, the court heard that Selamaj had driven from his hometown of Eastbourne to Kidbrooke on the evening of the murder after unsuccessfully “trawling” Brighton for a potential sexual encounter.

“The offence was planned over some days,” prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said. “On the day of the attack, the defendant demonstrated his sexual motivation by his unsuccessful attempts to get his former partner to engage in sexual activity with him.

“Having failed, the defendant then travelled to an area where he knew he would not be known and where he assumed he would not be detected in order to commit the attack. He sought out a vulnerable, lone female at night, before returning swiftly back to Eastbourne, disposing of the murder weapon along the route back.”

While there was “no definitive pathological evidence” of a sexual assault, the court was told that it could not be ruled out.

Nessa’s relatives left the room as the court was played CCTV footage of the prolonged attack, where Selamaj used a metal warning triangle from his car as a weapon.

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While Selamaj was not previously known to police and had no cautions or convictions, following the murder, his wife told officers that she had been the victim of domestic violence, including throttling, and she had fled their home in fear for her life.

At the end of  the first day of hearings, Women’s Equality Party, Mandu Reid, tweeted: “I am stunned by the horror and brutality of what Koci Selamaj did to Sabina Nessa.

Every time a woman gets attacked or murdered by a man we mourn and we rage… it keeps happening, and it never gets any easier.

But WE’ll never stop striving for change.”

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Images: Nessa family/Getty