Murder of Sabina Nessa

On the evening of 17 September 2021, 28-year-old Sabina Nessa was murdered in south east London, United Kingdom. Her body was found the following day in Cator Park, Greenwich, having been beaten and strangled. Koci Selamaj, an Albanian-born man resident in Eastbourne, East Sussex, pleaded guilty to her murder in February 2022 and was sentenced to life imprisonment in April 2022.

Murder of Sabina Nessa
Sabina Nessa.jpg
Sabina Nessa (pictured in c. 2014)
Date17 September 2021
LocationKidbrooke, Greenwich, London
ConvictedKoci Selamaj
VerdictPleaded guilty
SentenceLife imprisonment (36-year minimum term)


Sabina Nessa was raised in Sandy, Bedfordshire, England, with her older sister.[1] She was a teacher at Rushey Green Primary School in Lewisham, South East London.[2] She was a graduate of the University of Greenwich[3] and the University of Bedfordshire.[4] She graduated in sociology from Greenwich in 2014 and did her PGCE teaching certificate at Bedfordshire in 2020. She had plans to spend some time teaching in the UAE.[5] She was 28 years old at the time of her death.

Koci Selamaj (born 1985)[6] is Albanian-born, and had undertaken work at a garage[7] and as a delivery driver.[8] At the time of Nessa's murder, Selamaj was living in Eastbourne, East Sussex.[9]


On 17 September 2021, Selamaj checked in to The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, having booked the one-night stay earlier that week.[9] He then drove his Nissan Micra to London, and was seen on CCTV on foot in Cator Park, Kidbrooke, Greenwich at 20:00 BST.[10]

At 20:30, Nessa left her home in Astell Road, Kidbrooke[11] on a five-minute walk to meet a friend at the Depot pub in Kidbrooke Village, near Kidbrooke railway station.[12][13] While Nessa was walking through Cator Park,[10] Selamaj struck her unconscious with a blunt instrument, thought to be a traffic triangle, before dragging her into bushes where it is alleged she was strangled.[9][14] Selamaj was seen at 21:00 before leaving London.[10] En route back to Eastbourne, Selamaj stopped near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where he disposed of the traffic triangle in the River Teise.[15] He arrived at the hotel in Eastbourne shortly after 00:00 on 18 September.[9]

Although Nessa did not arrive at the pub, she was not reported missing.[16] At 17:30 on 18 September, a dog walker found Nessa's body under vegetation in the park.[10][17][18]

Legal proceedingsEdit

On 23 September, police in Lewisham arrested a 38-year-old man on suspicion of murder.[12] Three days later, Selamaj was arrested in Eastbourne, also on suspicion of murder.[12] He had been identified via CCTV footage of the attack.[19]

Selamaj was charged with murder on 27 September,[20] and appeared at Central London's Old Bailey via videolink from HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs in White City, West London, on 30 September.[7] The court heard that while Selamaj had repeatedly struck Nessa with a blunt instrument, a post mortem was inconclusive as to the cause of death.[7]

On 16 December 2021, Selamaj pleaded not guilty to murder, while admitting that he was responsible for Nessa's death. A pre-trial hearing was set for 25 February 2022, and a trial scheduled to last approximately two weeks was set for June 2022.[21] On 25 February 2022, Selamaj pleaded guilty to murder at the start of his trial at the Old Bailey.[19] On 7 April, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 36 years.[22]


Nessa's murder was not initially reported widely in the media, and journalist Katrina Mirpuri created a viral post on Instagram, calling out the lack of media attention[23][24]which eventually spearheaded the mass media coverage[25][26] and brought more pressure for action to tackle violence against women in London.[27][13] Mayor of London Sadiq Khan described violence against women as a national "epidemic".[28]

Her murder was compared to those of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman in June 2020 and Sarah Everard in March 2021. As in the case of Henry and Smallman, Nessa's death raised concerns that the killings of women of colour were still taken less seriously by law enforcement.[2][29] Nessa's sister, Jebina Yasmin Islam, said that while Clive Efford MP had supported her family, more senior officeholders had been "useless".[30] She suggested that Priti Patel was unsupportive and had used Nessa's name for publicity, saying "You haven't even bothered to ask [what the family are going through] since the death of my sister. Lack of support from yourself and Boris Johnson just shows how 'important' it is to tackle male violence to you guys". Islam complained the lack of support for her family was due to their ethnicity.[31]

Vigils were held in several cities to honour her life.[2][32][33][34] Her family spoke at a rally at East London Mosque attended by faith leaders, women's groups and local politicians, including Rushanara Ali MP.[35][36] A video message from Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain was played at the mosque, and a candle was lit at 10 Downing Street.[37] A spokesperson from Citizens UK observed that the day Nessa was killed was the same day the government released its strategy on tackling violence against women and girls.[38]

Dame Vera Baird attended the vigil for Nessa in London and commented that societal change is needed and the police must do more.[39] Also in attendance at the London vigil were Zarah Sultana, Mandu Reid, Rabina Khan and Apsana Begum.[40] Flowers were laid on behalf of the Duchess of Cambridge.[11]

In 2022, Jebina Yasmin Islam was chosen as one of the BBC's 100 women for her campaign to improve the safety of women.[41]


  1. ^ Plummer, Kate (22 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa: What do we know about the 28-year-old school teacher found dead?". Indy100. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Topping, Alexandra (22 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa: neighbours to hold vigil for suspected murder victim". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  3. ^ "Officer Statement on the Death of Sabina Nessa". Greenwich Students' Union. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  4. ^ Hutchinson, Laura (23 September 2021). "Nation joins family in mourning 'beautiful soul' and former University of Bedfordshire student Sabina Nessa". Bedford Today. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  5. ^ Sharman, Laura (25 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa hoped to start a new life in Dubai before brutal murder, friend claims". Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  6. ^ "CPS London authorises murder charge in Sabina Nessa case | The Crown Prosecution Service". Crown Prosecution Service. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "Sabina Nessa: Man accused of 'predatory' murder of teacher". BBC News. 30 September 2021. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  8. ^ Lyons, Izzy (25 February 2022). "Sabina Nessa: Pizza delivery driver admits murdering teacher after he lay in wait 'for any lone female'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d Pennink, Emily (25 February 2022). "'Predatory' day tripper admits murder of primary school teacher Sabina Nessa". MSN. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d "Sabina Nessa: Man admits murdering south-east London teacher". BBC News. 25 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  11. ^ a b Campbell, Lucy (23 September 2021). "'I don't want them out alone': fearful Kidbrooke mourns Sabina Nessa". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Howie, Michael (28 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa: Timeline of key events in investigation into teacher's murder". Evening Standard. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  13. ^ a b Child, David. "Sabina Nessa: London murder reignites fears over women's safety". Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  14. ^ Evans, Holly (25 February 2022). "Killer hit teacher 'with traffic triangle' after lying in wait for 30 minutes". MyLondon. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  15. ^ McConnell, Ed (25 February 2022). "Predator dumped murder weapon in Kent countryside". Kent Online. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  16. ^ Shadwell, Talia; Benson, Rhianna (24 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa murder: Five unanswered questions about the hunt for her killer". Wales Online. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  17. ^ Davis, Barney (22 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa: Campaigners say 'male violence is killing us'". Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  18. ^ Grierson, Jamie; Murray, Jessica; Marsh, Sarah (23 September 2021). "'London streets are safe for women,' say Met after Sabina Nessa killing". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  19. ^ a b Osborne, Samuel (25 February 2022). "Sabina Nessa: Garage worker Koci Selamaj pleads guilty to murdering primary school teacher". Sky News. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  20. ^ "Sabina Nessa: Man charged with teacher's murder". BBC News. 27 September 2021. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  21. ^ Kingsley, Thomas (16 December 2021). "Sabina Nessa: Koci Selamaj accepts responsibility for killing – but denies murder". BBC News. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  22. ^ "Sabina Nessa: Man jailed for murdering London teacher". BBC News. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  23. ^ Waheed, Alia (23 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa's murder: Why have we been slow on the uptake to care?". Marie Claire. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  24. ^ Mirpuri, Katrina (27 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa". Equate Magazine. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  25. ^ Dewar, Caitlyn (23 September 2021). "Man arrested on suspicion of the murder of Sabrina Nessa". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  26. ^ Simson, John; Hamilton, Fiona (24 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa: Police release video of man they are seeking". The Times. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  27. ^ Day, Aviah (24 September 2021). "Violence against women won't be solved by increasing police powers". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Sabina Nessa killing: Met Police investigate stranger attack theory". BBC News. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  29. ^ "'Say her name': Women of colour blast lack of public scrutiny over British teacher's murder". National Post. Reuters. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  30. ^ Rawlinson, Kevin (11 April 2022). "Sabina Nessa's sister says outcry would have been greater if she were white". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  31. ^ "Sabina Nessa: We were treated differently due to ethnicity, family says". BBC News. 11 April 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  32. ^ Sharman, Laura (25 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa vigil: Heartbroken sister speaks out as hundreds gather". Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  33. ^ Seaward, Tom (25 September 2021). "Candlelit vigil in east Oxford to pay tribute to teacher Sabina Nessa". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  34. ^ Conner-Hill, Rachel (25 September 2021). "North East vigil held in memory of murdered teacher". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  35. ^ "Sabina Nessa: Man arrested on suspicion of murder". BBC News. 26 September 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  36. ^ "Community rally held for Sabina Nessa at the Maryam Centre demands justice". East London Mosque. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  37. ^ Campbell, Lucy (25 September 2021). "'It's devastating': vigils held across UK in memory of Sabina Nessa". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  38. ^ Buaras, Elham Asaad (24 September 2021). "UK: Muslim women led rally demanding justice for Sabina Nessa". The Muslim News. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  39. ^ Campbell, Lucy (25 September 2021). "Police must do more to protect women, says Vera Baird after Sabina Nessa killing". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  40. ^ Beecham, Amy (25 September 2021). "Sabina Nessa: powerful responses and images from candlelit vigil". Stylist. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  41. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2022: Who is on the list this year?". BBC News. Retrieved 9 December 2022.