Young teacher’s body undiscovered for 24 hours in London Park

A 28-year-old primary school teacher murdered in London was killed while on her way to meet a friend at a pub, police have said.  

The young woman, identified as Sabina Nessa, left her home before walking through Cator Park in south-east London last Friday evening at around 8.30pm. She was heading towards the Depot bar in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke Village, when she was attacked, according to police.

Sabina’s body was found by a member of the public near the OneSpace community centre at Kidbrooke Park Road in the Royal Borough of Greenwich on Saturday afternoon. Police were called around 5.30pm; it is believed that Sabina’s body tragically lay undiscovered for almost 24 hours.

“Sabina never arrived at the pub and is thought to have been murdered as she walked through the park,” police said. A postmortem examination, carried out on Monday, was inconclusive.

A man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of killing her, but has now been released pending further investigation.

DI Joe Garrity said: “Sabina’s journey should have taken just over five minutes but she never made it to her destination. We know the community is rightly shocked by this murder – as are we – and we are using every resource available to us to find the individual responsible.”

DI Garrity said that the murder investigation was, however, making good progress. He said that police “believe there are still others out there who may have information that could help”.

Police have issued an appeal for information, and urged people who may know something to come forward urgently: “If you think you saw Sabina or any suspicious behaviour in or around the park on Friday evening please speak to us.”

“Our officers are working around the clock to find the person responsible for this fatal attack. Today we are asking you, the public, to help us with our investigation,” they said.

Tributes have been spilling in from colleagues, friends and neighbours of Sabina.

Paying tribute to the young teacher, her colleague Lisa Williams, the headteacher of Rushey Green primary school in Lewisham where Sabina worked, called her a brilliant teacher and said the school had been left “devastated” by her horrific death.

“She was a brilliant teacher; she was kind, caring and absolutely dedicated to her pupils. She had so much life ahead of her and so much more to give and her loss is desperately sad,” the headteacher said.

Annie Gibbs, who is vice-chair of the Kidbrooke forum community group, said shock and fear was reverberating across the area where the brutal attack took place.

“We are a loving community and we have a strong sense of solidarity,” she said. “Everyone wants the same thing – to support Sabina’s family and to make sure that we find whoever did this so that she can get justice.”

She added: “We want people to respect and honour her life and make sure that we send a loud and clear message that we are a united community and this violent act isn’t going to divide us. Violence isn’t welcome here and we will stand up against it. Although many people didn’t know Sabina, our community is one.”

The chilling murder comes as violence against women appears to be spirraling across the UK and worldwide. The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said violence against women was a national “epidemic”.

 

According to a recent report from ITV,  77 women in the UK have been confirmed murdered where a man is the principal suspect since the abduction, rape and murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard in March. It brings the total of women killed by male suspects this year to 105, according to Counting Dead Women – a group that tracks femicide in the UK.

Over the past decade in the UK, more than nine out of 10 killers of women were men, and about 57 percent of female victims were killed by someone they knew, most commonly a partner or ex-partner.

Studies and data worldwide have indicated that Covid-19 lockdowns have contributed to an increase in violence against women. Although murder rates worldwide have mostly remained steady, various countries have reported an increase in domestic violence.

Straight after its initial lockdowns, China saw a 300% increase in domestic violence. In the UK, domestic attacks against women reportedly doubled relative to the 10-year average between March and April 2020. A study conducted in Tunisia reported a significant increase in physical and psychological violence against women during the lockdown, particularly for women who had been victims of abuse in the past. German data reported a 5% increase in violence against women during the April 2020 lockdowns.

Another study from Lebanon recorded a 45% rise in attacks against females during the same month, with Muslim women suffering most.

On an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: “Between last year’s International Women’s Day and this year’s International Women’s Day, 180 women were killed at the hands of men across the country.

“We do have an epidemic when it comes to violence against women and girls. I think us men have got to be allies in addressing this issue,” Khan said.

A vigil will be held for Sabina at 7pm this Friday 24th September in Pegler Square, London. The vigil is set to be supported by the campaign group ‘Reclaim These Streets’, which organised a similar vigil in the wake of the murder of another young English woman, Sarah Everard in March.

Campaign groups have responded, highlighting the fact that a woman dies at the hands of a man every three days in England alone. Many groups and women have been taking to social media since the news of Sabina’s murder broke, expressing the view that for too long the burden of women’s safety has been on women.

“All women should feel safe on the streets and at home,” one social media post read. On the social media platforms and elsewhere, the hashtag #SaySabinasName was being widely circulated in a bid to raise awareness and in hopes that more information would emerge about the killing.

Many posts read, “women deserve to get home safe”.

Women’s Aid, the domestic abuse charity, released an infographic on Instagram which read, “Sabina Nessa. Say her name”. Beneath it, they shared a broken heart emoji, and wrote:

“We are devastated to hear about the death of Sabina Nessa – yet another victim of violence against women. ALL women should be safe both in the streets and in their own homes. ALL women’s lives are of equal value. It’s not good enough that victims from Black and marginalised communities do not recieve the same level of attention and support, time and time again,” they said, referring to the fact that Sabina was from an Asian background.

“In solidarity and sisterhood, let’s remember another life lost. Let’s #SaySabinasName, so she gets the justice she deserves,” they added.

A number of crime scenes are in place and enquiries are ongoing, the MET police said in a statement. Anyone with information or any witnesses can call English police on 101, reference 547/18. To remain anonymous, police asked people to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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