"You are an awful human being"
Koci Selamaj, aged 36, of Eastbourne, has been jailed for life for the murder of primary school teacher Sabina Nessa.
The Old Bailey heard that he drove from his home to London to carry out the premeditated attack after being spurned by his estranged wife.
Selamaj loitered in Cator Park for around half an hour before carrying out the attack.
On September 17, 2021, Ms Nessa walked through the park in Kidbrooke, London, to meet a friend.
The 28-year-old was “oblivious” as garage worker Selamaj ran up behind her and struck her 34 times over the head with a metal traffic triangle.
Prosecutors believe Ms Nessa had raised concerns about walking through Cator Park after dark but decided to after running late to meet the friend.
CCTV footage captured Selamaj carrying Ms Nessa’s unconscious body up a grassy bank and out of sight.
Ms Nessa later died and her body was found the next day.
Eight days after the attack, Selamaj was arrested and charged with murder.
On December 16, 2021, Selamaj appeared at the Old Bailey for a plea and directions hearing.
While he entered a formal not guilty plea to murder, it was indicated on his behalf that accepted responsibility for killing Sabina Nessa.
In February 2022, Selamaj pleaded guilty to her murder.
At the sentencing hearing on April 8, 2022, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC invited the court to conclude there was a sexual motive for the killing, despite no “positive” evidence of a sexual assault.
Ms Morgan explained that Selamaj had been violent towards his ex-partner in the past, including throttling her.
Sabina Nessa’s sister Jebina Yasmin Islam said:
“She had every right to be walking down the path and enjoying herself.
“She had the right to feel safe.”
Branding Selamaj a “coward” for refusing to attend court to be sentenced, she added:
“You are an awful human being and do not deserve your name to be said. You are a disgusting animal.”
Ms Nessa’s parents Abdur Rouf and Azibun Nessa said in a statement:
“You had no right to take her away from us in such a cruel way.
“The moment the police officer came to our house and told her she was found dead our world shattered into pieces.
“How could you do such a thing to an innocent girl walking by, minding her own business.
“You are not a human being, you are an animal.”
Selamaj’s defence barrister said he is an Albanian national who came to the UK around seven years ago after leaving school at 12 with no qualifications.
The defence pointed out he had pleaded guilty to murder rather than letting the case go to trial, arguing it should be considered in sentencing.
Selamaj was jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years.
After sentencing, Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Neil John described Selamaj as an “evil coward”.
He said: “It is highly unusual for someone to go from zero to a crime of this magnitude.
“We are pleased Selamaj will spend the majority of his life in prison.”