A ‘nasty’ car mechanic who attacked schoolteacher Sabina Nessa as she walked through a London park has been jailed for life for her murder.
Koci Selamaj, 36, was told by a judge that he would serve at least 36 years for the “wild” sexual assault.
His sentencing heard how Ms Nessa appeared ‘unconscious’ as he ran behind her before hit her 34 times on the head with a metal warning triangle on September 17 of last year.
Read more: Sabina Nessa’s sister says ‘my whole world just fell apart’
The 28-year-old had raised concerns about walking in Cator Park after dark, but likely decided to do so the day of her murder after being late to meet a friend, prosecutors say .
Selamaj’s sentencing continued Friday at the Old Bailey, where the 36-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 36 years after refusing to appear in court.
Judge Sweeney said Ms Nessa was ‘the utterly blameless victim of an utterly appalling murder which was entirely the fault of the defendant’.
He added that her death added to the “sense of insecurity” particularly felt by a woman walking through London at night.
“She had every right, as her family said, to walk around the park in style and go out for fun after a long week of work.”
The judge noted Selamaj’s guilty plea and lack of previous convictions, but added: “It is a striking feature of the defendant’s case that, clearly deliberately, it is not suggested by him that he felt remorse for what he did to Sabina Nessa.
The Albanian national, from Eastbourne, was arrested in the seaside town of East Sussex and later pleaded guilty to his murder.
At Thursday’s hearing, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said Selamaj had been violent towards her ex-partner in the past, including strangling her.
On the day of the murder, Selamaj drove into London and entered Cator Park just after 8pm, waiting half an hour before Ms Nessa arrived en route to a bar where she was due to meet a friend.
In CCTV footage shown in court on Thursday, Koci Salamaj was seen walking along the path with his hood up and the road sign in his hand.
She is “unaware of him behind her” at this point, the court heard.
He then runs behind her and starts hitting her repeatedly with the traffic sign.
Selamaj was then seen carrying Ms Nessa, who appeared to be unconscious at the time, to a bank and out of sight.
Ms Morgan urged the court to find there was a sexual motive for the killing, even though there was no ‘positive’ evidence of a sexual assault.
Ms Nessa’s sister Jebina Yasmin Islam broke down as she made an emotional statement in court.
“She had every right to walk the path and have fun,” she said.
“She had the right to feel safe.”
Selamaj arrived in the UK around seven years ago after leaving school aged 12 without qualifications, his lawyer said.
The defense pointed out that he pleaded guilty to murder rather than letting the case go to trial, arguing that this should be taken into account in sentencing.
Ms Nessa’s family hugged their supporters as they left court on Friday.
Following the conviction, Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Neil John described Selamaj as an “evil coward”.
He said: “It’s very unusual for someone to go from zero to a crime of this magnitude.
“We are delighted that Selamaj is spending most of his life in prison.”
After the hearing, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘While I cannot know how Sabina’s family and friends feel, I hope today’s sentencing brings them some comfort, knowing that this evil monster has faced justice.
“As Home Secretary, tackling violence against women and girls is at the heart of my plan to tackle crime and I am doing everything in my power to target the perpetrators, protect the public and make our streets safer for everyone.”