The Old Bailey heard today how the 28-year-old teacher normally avoided walking through Cator Park in South East London at night but cut through because she was rushing to meet a friend at Depot bar
Image: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
Sabina Nessa only took a shortcut through the park where her murderer attacked and killed her because she was running late, the Old Bailey heard today.
The 28-year-old teacher told pals she normally avoided walking through Cator Park in South East London at night but cut through because she was rushing to meet a friend at Depot bar on September 17.
Koci Selamaj, 36, had lain in wait at the park for 25 minutes with his hood up, before he struck Sabina with an emergency traffic triangle and dragged her into the bushes.
He then strangled her in the undergrowth and left her body to be discovered by a dog walker 24 hours later.
Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
Alison Morgan QC told the court today: “It was out of character for Sabina to walk in Cator Park after dark.”
Sabina had discussed being concerned about being there after dark.
Ms Morgan said: “It seems likely that she chose to walk across the park that night because she was running late and this was the quickest route to get to the Depot Bar.”
Selamaj, an Albanian national from Eastbourne, East Sussex, was arrested on September 26 after being recognized on CCTV.
The clip showed him running towards Sabina and “striking her repeatedly”, before carrying her out of sight and later emerging to pick up pieces of the weapon.
Sabina’s body was found nearly 24 hours later by a dog walker hidden underneath a pile of grass.
Selamaj admitted murder last month and faces life in prison, but today refused to attend court.
Members of his victim’s family gathered at the Old Bailey this afternoon, with supporters of the Sabina Project also outside holding placards.
Mr Justice Sweeney said the sentencing could go ahead in the absence of the defendant as the court had no power to force him to attend.
The judge noted a life sentence was “inevitable” with a starting point of a minimum term of 30 years.
The defendant had also been captured on CCTV footage stalking the hotel lobby of a five-star hotel where his wife worked just hours before setting his murderous sights on Sabina.
Garage worker Selamaj planned the savage murder after being rejected by his wife in his home town of Eastbourne.
He murdered the primary school teacher just weeks after his wife left him due to his domestic abuse, which included him “throttling” her at least three times.
Selamaj tried to persuade his wife to have sex with him just hours before his attack, but she refused.
The defendant booked a £400 room at The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, located five minutes from his home.
Ms Morgan told the court today the booking was “indicative of his premeditation to have some kind of sexual encounter that evening”.
Selamaj will be sentenced tomorrow at the Old Bailey.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.