Sabina Nessa: Everything we know about murder of primary school teacher

Investigations are ongoing into the 28-year-old’s death

Thomas Kingsley,Sam Hancock
Thursday 23 September 2021 15:26
Man arrested on suspicion of murder after woman’s body found near community centre in London

Police are continuing to appeal for information following the murder of 28-year-old school teacher Sabina Nessa.

Ms Nessa’s death left staff and pupils at her school “devastated” after her body was discovered near a community centre in southeast London.

Detective Inspector Joe Garrity said the investigation is making “good progress”, but continued to urge witnesses to come forward as specialist officers and staff remain at the scene in Kidbrooke.

What happened?

Police were called just after 5.30pm on Saturday, 18 September, after a body was found in Cator Park near OneSpace community centre on Kidbrooke Park Road in southeast London.

A man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of murder but was later released pending further investigation.

On Monday, 20 September, police formally identified the body as 28-year-old primary school teacher Sabina Nessa. A post-mortem examination carried out at Greenwich Mortuary was “inconclusive.”

The Metropolitan Police revealed on Tuesday that Ms Nessa’s body wasn’t found until hours after her death.

Detective Superintendent Luke Marks said there was a “short delay” in finding her body because it was “not in the main walkway” of the park. “A member of the public found the body the morning after the attack,” he said.

“It wasn’t on the main walkway in the park, so that was the reason for the small delay in Sabina being found.”

The Met said on Thursday, 23 September, Ms Nessa was walking from her home address on Astell Road in southeast London to meet a friend at a local pub when she was murdered.

Officers believe she was heading through Cator Park on her way to The Depot bar – which she never reached – on Pegler Square, Kidbrooke Village. The Depot is just over a five-minute walk from Ms Nessa’s home address, they added.

A friend later told LBC Radio the teacher was on her way to a date with someone that she had known “for some time”.

It is thought the attack happened at around 8.30pm on Friday, 17 September, when the park “was likely being used by many people”.

Police said Ms Nessa was not reported missing between the time she was attacked and the time her body was found.

Who was Sabina Nessa?

Ms Nessa was a 28-year-old Year One teacher at Rushney Green Primary School in Catford where she worked for over a year.

The headteacher of her primary school described her as a “brilliant teacher.”

“We are devastated by Sabina’s tragic death,” said Lisa Williams, adding: “She was kind, caring and absolutely dedicated to her pupils. She had so much life ahead of her and so much more to give.”

Ms Nessa, who police say was unmarried and did not have any children, lived in Lewisham. Her father, who worked as a chef in an Indian restaurant, was described as being a “broken man” following the news, the Evening Standard reported.

Meanwhile, Ms Nessa’s sister, who goes by the Twitter handle @jaxjn02, paid tribute to her “inspiration” on social media.

“My beautiful talented & caring sister, my inspiration to always put myself first & never let anybody put me down never in my life did I or my sisters or my mum or dad think this could happen to us,” she wrote in a post.

“3 sisters down to 2”, she said, before adding “no mother or father should have to go through this, may Allah grant my parents ease”.

What happens next?

Police have launched fresh appeals for information following Ms Nessa’s murder and a police presence remains in place across open spaces in Lewisham and Greenwich.

Detectives are requesting anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour in the park on the evening of Friday, 17 September, to come forward. They are also working “very closely” with local authorities and communities to keep people safe while investigations continue.

Officers said on Thursday, 23 September, they were “keeping a completely open mind” on the attacker’s motive – including that it could well have been a stranger who is still at large.

Speaking at the park where flowers had been laid beside a police cordon, Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry said his team were pursuing multiple “lines of inquiry at the moment”. He also told reporters the force is not currently linking the attack to any others and that “the streets are safe for women”.

Asked whether he believes a stranger was behind the attack, DCS Lawry said: “That’s definitely a line of inquiry that we’re looking at.”

A vigil has been organised in the Kidbrooke community in memory of Ms Nessa on Friday, 24 September, while St James’ Church Kidbrooke will open its doors on Friday to offer prayer to those affected by the tragic incident.

Anyone with information or any witnesses are being asked to call police on 101, reference 5747/18. To remain anonymous please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.