An “evil” garage worker who attacked primary school teacher 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 he would serve at least 36 years for the “savage” sexually motivated attack.
His sentencing heard how Ms Nessa appeared “oblivious” as he ran up behind her before he struck her 34 times over the head with a metal traffic triangle on 17 September last year.
Read more: Sabina Nessa’s sister says ‘my whole world just crumbled down’
The 28-year-old had raised concerns about walking in Cator Park after dark but likely decided to on the day of her murder after running late to meet a friend, prosecutors believe.
The sentencing of Selamaj continued at the Old Bailey on Friday, where the 36-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years after refusing to appear in court.
Mr Justice Sweeney said Ms Nessa was the “wholly blameless victim of an absolutely appalling murder which was entirely the fault of the defendant.”
He added that her death added to “the sense of insecurity” particularly felt by women walking through London at night.
“She had every right, as her family said, to be walking through the park all glammed up and out to enjoy herself after a long week at 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 had any remorse for what he did to Sabina Nessa.”
The Albanian national, from Eastbourne, was arrested in the East Sussex seaside town and later pleaded guilty to her murder.
At the hearing on Thursday, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said Selamaj had been violent towards his ex-partner in the past, including throttling her.
On the day of the killing, Selamaj drove up to London and entered Cator Park just after 8pm, lying in wait for half an hour before Ms Nessa arrived en route to a bar where she was meant to meet a friend.
In CCTV footage shown in court on Thursday, Koci Selamaj was seen walking along the path with his hood up and the traffic sign in his hand.
She is “oblivious to 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 by that point, up a bank and out of sight.
Ms Morgan invited the court to conclude 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 gave a moving impact statement to the court.
“She had every right to be walking down the path and enjoying herself,” she said.
“She had the right to feel safe.”
Selamaj came to the UK roughly seven years ago after leaving school at 12 with no qualifications, his defense barrister said.
The defense pointed out he had pleaded guilty to murder rather than letting the case go to trial, arguing it should be considered in sentencing.
Ms Nessa’s family hugged supporters as they left court on Friday.
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.”
After the hearing, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “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.”