Koci Selamaj: who is Sabina Nessa killer, what is his country of origin, nationality, and how was he caught?

Koci Selamaj, 36, has ‘never shown any remorse’ or given an explanation for his ‘heinous’ actions

The car used by murderer Koci Selamaj on the night he killed Sabina Nessa proved to be crucial in leading police to him.

Selamaj, who has been branded a “evil monster” by the Home Secretary lay in wait in a London park for half an hour before targeting Ms Nessa, a total stranger to him, and carried out his attack.

CCTV footage captured the moment Selamaj swiftly overwhelmed Ms Nessa, 28, by striking her over the head 34 times, before carrying her away unconscious.

She had been passing through Cator Park in Kidbrooke on 17 September last year on her way to meet a friend.

After murdering Ms Nessa, Selamaj tried to hide her body by covering her with grass. She was discovered the following day.

The sentencing of Selamaj continued at the Old Bailey on Friday (8 April), where the 36-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years.

The murder investigation saw police trawl through hundreds of hours of CCTV and it was the Nissan Micra used by Selamaj which played a role in him being identified as the killer.

Koci Selamaj admitted murdering Sabina Nessa.Koci Selamaj admitted murdering Sabina Nessa.
Koci Selamaj admitted murdering Sabina Nessa.

Who is Koci Selamaj and what was said in court about him?

In mitigation, Lewis Power QC had said Selamaj had provided no explanation for why he killed Ms Nessa, adding: “He simply accepts that he did it.”

Selamaj, an Albanian national, carried out the brutal and sustained attack, using a 2ft long metal traffic warning sign as the murder weapon, before hiding Ms Nessa’s body and driving home.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said the murder was further aggravated because it involved the targeting of a lone female at night at a time of heightened concern for the safety of young women following the murder of Sarah Everard six months before.

Outlining the background to the “premeditated” murder, Ms Morgan said Selamaj had been violent towards his ex-partner, having put his hands around her neck in a strangling motion a number of times.

Three days before the attack on Ms Nessa, he booked a room at the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, the town where he already had accommodation.

At about 2.20pm on September 17, hotel staff alerted police via 101 after Selamaj checked in to his £325-a-night room.

Police said they had been concerned about his demeanour and the fact he lived close by.

Selamaj went on to contact his former partner in a failed bid to persuade her to have sex with him.

She said in a statement that he appeared “very agitated” when they met in his car near the hotel.

He then drove his Nissan Micra to Brighton and on to Kidbrooke in south London.

He used his bank card at Sainsbury’s to buy a rolling pin, chilli flakes and an energy drink.

He rejected the rolling pin as a weapon in favour of the traffic triangle, which he was to use to attack Ms Nessa.

Sabina Nessa.Sabina Nessa.
Sabina Nessa.

What happened to Sabina?

Selamaj entered Cator Park in Kidbrooke shortly after 8pm and lay in wait for half an hour before Ms Nessa arrived on route to The Depot bar where she was due to meet a friend.

Ms Morgan said: “The defendant is seen in effect loitering in locations around the park before spotting the deceased, checking to see if anyone else was nearby before turning and running after her.

“He is then seen to move towards the deceased and striking her repeatedly using a weapon which was approximately 2ft in length.

“The CCTV footage shows the defendant then carrying the deceased, who appeared to be unconscious by that point, up a bank and effectively out of sight.”

Ms Morgan said Selamaj incapacitated Ms Nessa with 34 blows to the head from a metal emergency triangle.

Selamaj’s actions afterwards were out of camera shot, but Ms Nessa was not seen alive again.

The prosecutor said: “The male did appear after 10 minutes.

“He is seen to pick up pieces of the weapon that had broken on the ground and then moved back to the area the deceased was located for another 10 minutes.”

Selamaj was captured on CCTV in south-east London on the evening of Sabina’s murder.Selamaj was captured on CCTV in south-east London on the evening of Sabina’s murder.
Selamaj was captured on CCTV in south-east London on the evening of Sabina’s murder.

Selamaj was seen using wet wipes to clean a nearby bench.

On route back to the south coast, Selamaj stopped in the area of Tunbridge Wells in Kent where he disposed of the emergency triangle in the River Teise.

He arrived back at the £170-a-night Grand Hotel just after midnight.

How was he caught?

Police, who trawled through hundreds of hours of CCTV, arrested Selamaj at his home in Eastbourne on 26 September.

Ultimately it was the Nissan Micra he had travelled in which led police to him. While officers were trawling CCTV they saw what appeared to be a fluorescent object glinting as it moved out of the park. This gave the direction of travel and they were then able to focus from this area, leading ultimately to an image of an unknown male being identified.

The same person was seen entering the park, and before that, driving a vehicle into Pegler Square and arriving in Kidbrooke at 7.41pm.

The CCTV of the vehicle was blurry and there was no way to make out the registration number. However, the investigation team concluded it was a silver or beige Nissan Micra. This was confirmed with assistance from Nissan in London, who narrowed down the year and type of vehicle.

The nearest ANPR camera – the only one the driver would have had to definitely pass to get to Cator Park – was broken so officers had to look at all vehicles fitting the description within a two-mile radius of the crime scene.

In total, more than 60 Nissan Micras had to be eliminated from the inquiry. Further media appeals, including images of the car and the unidentified man, were also carried out, leading to over 170 separate pieces of information being received from the public.

When officers discovered a car registered in the name of Koci Selamaj, it immediately aroused suspicion. The car had been in the Eastbourne area for a full year prior to the murder until it had suddenly travelled to London for a four-hour period on the night of the murder and then back to Eastbourne in the hours afterwards.

Further checks provided a phone number for Selamaj and analysis of the number showed an identical journey to that made by the car that evening.

When he was arrested clothing matching that seen on CCTV was found in the property. Bloodstained trainers were also seized; the blood proved a DNA match to Sabina.

Hundreds attended a vigil in memory of Ms Nessa.Hundreds attended a vigil in memory of Ms Nessa.
Hundreds attended a vigil in memory of Ms Nessa.

What have police said?

Following the 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.”

“Selamaj is a dangerous and violent offender who has never shown any remorse for his heinous actions.

“He carried out a premeditated and brutal murder and for that he will spend the vast majority of his life in prison.

“This was a shocking and complex case which involved officers and staff from across the Met. I know it will stay with all of those who worked on it for a long time to come.

“We have heard from Sabina’s family and the devastating impact this has had on all of their lives. They have continued to astound us with their dignity and bravery and our thoughts remain with them.

“Those who knew Sabina were not the only ones affected by her murder. Her death struck at the heart of the fears of many women who should have the right to walk in our open spaces safely, no matter the time of day or the location.

“Right across the Met there is a relentless effort to tackle violence against women and girls and to bring those who perpetrate these crimes to justice.”

How long will he serve behind bars?

Having admitted murdering Ms Nessa, Selamaj was jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years on Friday.

His case called on Thursday 7 April at the Old Bailey for sentencing, however he refused to attend. The judge said the hearing could continue without him.

He noted a life sentence was “inevitable” with a starting point for a minimum term of 30 years. Statements from Ms Nessa’s family were read out.

Has the Home Office commented?

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Sabina Nessa cruelly lost her life following the harrowing and callous actions of a man who is rightly now behind bars.

“Whilst I cannot possibly know how Sabina’s family and friends are feeling, I hope today’s sentence brings them a small comfort, knowing that this evil monster has faced justice.

“As Home Secretary, tackling violence against women and girls is central to my Beating Crime Plan and I am doing everything in my power to target perpetrators, protect the public and make our streets safer for everyone.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.