United Kingdom

Police arrest man, 36, on suspicion of murdering Sabina Nessa

Police today traced a third Sabina Nessa suspect to a Sussex address at least 50 miles from the crime scene in a 'significant development' in the investigation - as Ms Nessa's family visit the scene to read tributes.

The man was arrested on suspicion of murder at around 3am today at an address in East Sussex and taken into police custody. 

And Pegler Square has today reopened after forensic searches were carried out in the hunt for Ms Nessa's killer.  

Ms Nessa's family, including a woman understood to be her sister Jebina, visited the scene where the primary school teacher was allegedly murdered to look at the hundreds of tributes left in her memory.

Jebina collected a white box with a picture of Ms Nessa on it from vigil organiser Annie Gibbs. It had been used after the memorial to collect notes of condolence written by attendees.

CCTV footage which has not yet been released by police reportedly shows her attacker strike her over the head with an object before carrying her over his shoulder towards the park where her body was later discovered. 

Meanwhile, a Nissan Micra pictured at a Eastbourne police compound is believed to be connected with the murder investigation.

Of the latest arrest, Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, from the Met's Specialist Crime Command, said: 'Sabina's family have been informed of this significant development and they continue to be supported by specialist officers.' 

Detectives are also urging people who were driving in the area on Friday night to check their dashcam footage for possible glimpses of the suspect in the car headlights. A police source said a man caught on security cameras carrying a 'red reflective item' is their prime suspect. 

Sabina Nessa, 28, originally from Bedfordshire, disappeared on September 17 as she left home to meet a man for a first date at a local pub and her body was found the following afternoon

Ms Nessa's family, including a woman understood to be her sister Jebina, visited the scene where the primary school teacher was allegedly murdered to look at the hundreds of tributes left in her memory

A Nissan Micra pictured at a Eastbourne police compound is believed to be connected with the murder investigation

Vigil organiser Ms Gibbs, who shared an emotional embrace with Ms Nessa's sister, said of Friday's service: 'I think it really honoured Sabina. It was very respectful. I believe there was possibly as many as 3,000 people who attended which was incredible.

'Everyone came there with the same heart. They just wanted the family to feel loved and supported and that was achieved. We really wanted to make sure we got the message out there that we want justice and this is not something that we expect in our community. But it's not going to divide us.

'We're going to keep fighting until we find who has done this. I was really delighted this morning to see an arrest has been made.'

Ms Gibbs fears some people are forgetting there is a family grieving losing a much loved sister and daughter at the core of a case promoting global discussion about wider issues.

She added: 'At the moment, we need to focus on the fact there is a family who has lost someone. Changes will come later.

'All this political stuff and organisations capitalising on it is just really not needed right now and it is wrong at this time. It is too soon. Barely a week has passed.

'This is a time for us to remember Sabina, not blaming or politics. Let's respect the family. Let's focus on Sabina and her loved ones.'

Forensic officers in blue full body overalls had been seen photographing areas which had been marked with yellow evidence cones.

They continued into Saturday with a particular focus on the building sites near a multi-storey car park for residents and visitors to the new build Kidbrooke Village complex.

But the area was fully open on Sunday morning with no sign of activity apart from the remnants of police tape where the cordon had been. 

Hundreds of lit candles and bouquets of flowers remained in the communal square following the touching vigil to Ms Nessa held just metres from The Depot pub where she had planned to meet a friend on the evening she was murdered.

Jebina collected a white box with a picture of Ms Nessa on it from vigil organiser Annie Gibbs. It had been used after the memorial to collect notes of condolence written by attendees 

Vigil organiser Ms Gibbs, who shared an emotional embrace with Ms Nessa's sister, said of Friday's service: 'I think it really honoured Sabina. It was very respectful. I believe there was possibly as many as 3,000 people who attended which was incredible. Pictured, Jebina was accompanied by a police liaison officer

Ms Gibbs fears some people are forgetting there is a family grieving losing a much loved sister and daughter at the core of a case promoting global discussion about wider issues

Written on one candle was the simple question many people continue to ask: 'Why?'.

A floral tribute read: 'Women deserve to go home safely. Thinking of Sabina and all who loved her.'

A cardboard placard had the names of every women murdered in the UK this year written on it and asked: 'How many more?'

One read: 'End male violence,' with a picture of the primary school teacher.

'Men, call each other out,' was written on one placard while another read: 'Women deserve safety.'

A small pot of pink roses was left at the spot on the grassy mound in Cator Park near the OneSpace Commmunity Centre where Sabina is believed to have been found dead.

Other flowers have been left on a bench near the spot along with candles.

Mark Turner, 53, who works in education, left a written message of condolence to Ms Nessa today/yesterday (SUN) at the scene of the floral tributes.

He said: 'I've left this message today because what happened here is shockingly violent and terrible for this community.

'I work in education and the fact this young woman was a teacher is simply devastating. To think about what those young children must be going through is incomprehensible.

'It's hard to fathom the impact of this on the children and teachers who have come down here to pay their respects.

Detectives are urgently to appeal for information about a mystery man who was captured on CCTV in Pegler Square, south east London, on the night Sabina, 28, was attacked 

'Let's hope this latest development in the case leads to justice for Sabina.'

Celia McKiernan, 54, who also works in education and stopped for a moment by the floral tributes, said: 'It's really hard to put words to it.

'My biggest concern now is around the vulnerability and safety for women and young girls growing up.

'It is about time we felt safe walking along streets and through parks.'

Branch operator Henry Lansana, 45, who lives in Sydenham, remembered Ms Nessa by saying goodbye in a card.

He said: 'I didn't really know Sabina personally but she was within my friendship group. We knew some of the same people.

'From the few times I was with her within the same group, I instantly realised what a kind and thoughtful person she was.

'My mother and father were both teachers and Sabina had those same caring qualities you need to work with children.

'She was just such a warm, beautiful girl and you can see she meant so much to so many people from all of these tributes.'

Becoming emotional, Mr Lansana added: 'To think something as horrific as this can happen to someone as brilliant as her is awful.

'I came to say my final goodbye. May she rest in peace.'

In one heartbreaking tribute left at the scene, a child had written on a small sized white school uniform polo shirt in black permanent marker pen: 'Thank you for being my teacher,' with a love heart dotting the I.

Children at St Edwards Upton Park had also drawn a mosaic picture of Ms Nessa of her graduating from university - with pupils each colouring a tile.

An attached note read: 'Dear Ms Nessa and pupils of Rushey Green Primary School,

'We send our condolences and are so sorry for what has happened.

'All the children and staff at St Edward's Upton Park are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers!

Police comb the area around Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, south London, searching for evidence in the alleged murder of 28-year-old Sabina Nessa

'We know you were an amazing teacher and a kind, caring soul and we thank you for all you did. xxx'

Another hand drawn picture of Ms Nessa was also left with a teddy bear.

Police yesterday reissued footage of a man, who was seen on CCTV in Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, South East London. 

The force said the images were captured 'shortly before' Sabina's murder. In the grainy film, the man is seen carrying something red in his hands. 

The new information came as Home Secretary Priti Patel admitted women survivors of violence were being 'let down' by police. 

Ms Patel said cases of violence against women were still 'far too common' and that she was 'carefully considering' moves to tackle the problem, the Times reported. 

The Home Secretary's remarks came hours after the Metropolitan Police insisted the area where Ms Nessa was killed was still 'safe for women'.  

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, from the Met's Specialist Crime Command, said: 'People in the Kidbrooke area last Friday may recall seeing this man carrying a red reflective object, and possibly trying to conceal it.

'Please share the CCTV footage on social media and show the image to family members and friends who may not have seen it. He must be traced.'  

Three men arrested in suspicion of Sabina Nessa's murder 

Arrest One (Suspect A):

On the same day Sabina was found, a man in his 40s and known to her was the first to be arrested on suspicion of her murder. 

He was later released under investigation on September 24. 

Arrest Two (Suspect B): 

A 38-year-old man was arrested on Thursday at an address in Lewisham in connection with the murder. 

He was of has also been released under investigation. 

Arrest Three (Suspect C):

Police arrested a 36-year-old man in a 'significant development' in the investigation on Sunday, September 26.

The man was arrested at around 3am at an address in East Sussex and taken into police custody.  

Forensic officers scoured an area of Pegler Square on Friday evening. It's understood that they were looking for the potential murder weapon. 

The team was seen photographing spots on the pavement and searched a building site where a pipe trench had been dug. Officers were seen turning over dug up soil for clues.

Ms Patel has said is considering recommendations to help tackle violence against women because these things 'should have no place' in our society. 

She singled out crimes such as 'rape, female genital mutilation, stalking and harassment' which are taking place every day. 

'These crimes are still far too common and there are too many instances of victims and survivors being let down.'   

'The tragic cases of Sarah Everard, Julia James, Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman and Sabina Nessa demonstrate this.' 

The Victims' Commissioner has urged the police to do more to make streets safe for women in the wake of the killing.      

It also emerged yesterday that parents at Sabina's Rushey Green Primary School had received a warning letter several months ago about a string of attempted abductions by strangers.

Lewisham police issued the alert in May following the reports that four children had been approached by unknown men in neighbouring Bromley.

Ms Nessa had been working at the school in Catford, which has 600 pupils and around 70 staff, for just over a year after she qualified last year.

A teacher at the school said: 'The Year Two pupils, who Sabina taught last year in Year One will be the most upset, and their parents. It is hard for teachers to reassure children who are nervous about being at school for the first time, while they are putting on a brave face while consumed with grief themselves.' 

Sabina left her flat in Kidbrooke to meet a man for a first date at the nearby Depot bar at around 8.30pm on Friday, September 17. She never arrived there.

Her body, which had been covered with leaves, was found the following evening by a dog walker near the OpenSpace community centre in Cator Park, less than 500 yards from the victim's front door. 

Meanwhile, more than 500 well-wishers, including Ms Nessa's sister Jebina, gathered in Pegler Square for a vigil on Friday, organised by campaign group Reclaim the Streets, which said it is 'angry and heartbroken' about her death. 

And teachers at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, where Ms Nessa worked, said they are 'consumed by grief' following their colleagues death, but said they are putting on a 'brave face' for their students.    

Teachers at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, where Ms Nessa (pictured) worked, said they are 'consumed by grief' following their colleagues death

More than 500 well-wishers, including Ms Nessa's sister Jebina, gathered in Pegler Square for a vigil on Friday, organised by campaign group Reclaim the Streets, which said it is 'angry and heartbroken' about her death

One teacher at Ms Nessa's, who did not wish to be named, said it was awful to think that the 'kind and dedicated' teacher had 'suffered in the most violent way' and said the staff are all rallying around to support each other.

They told South London Press: 'No one and nothing can prepare you for this - the first anyone knew was when we arrived at school on Monday morning.

'It is awful enough when someone dies. This is so much worse. It is impossible to even comprehend - that she suffered in the most violent way. We were sitting beside her on Friday - then this.

'The Year Two pupils, who she had last year in Year One, will be the most upset - and their parents.

'Everyone is supporting each other. But it is hard for teachers to reassure children who are nervous about being at school for the first time - while they are themselves putting on a brave face while consumed with grief themselves.'

Ms Nessa had just taken on a new Year One class for the start of term at the school, which has 600 pupils and around 70 staff.

Lisa Williams, headteacher of the school, has spoken to classes individually with educational psychologists also offering help.

Speaking of her 'devastation' after Ms Nessa's death, she told Sky News: '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.

'As a school we are supporting each other through this very difficult time.'

Ms Nessa was a member of the National Education Union's Lewisham branch, which held a minute's silence at a meeting on Wednesday night and has written to the school.

Branch secretary Duncan Morrison told the South London Press: 'Staff would be given the opportunity to reflect and spend time thinking about Sabina. We would always try to listen - the last thing people in shock or grief want is to be told what to do.

Meanwhile, a vigil took place in Peglar Square, near to where Sabina's body was found, at 7pm on Friday. Pictured: Jebina Nessa pays tribute to her sister during the vigil

Sister Jebina Nessa broke down in tears as she paid tribute to her sister Sabina, a 28-year-old primary school teacher who was murdered yards from her south east London home

'It is hard even for an adult to comprehend what seems to be the senseless murder of a young woman. Her pupils are so young, which makes it all the more difficult. It is hard even to explain to the oldest children at a primary school.

'She was only just starting to build relationships with the new Year One children. The class which will experience it most will be those she taught last year. She had a strong relationship with them.

'The crucial thing is to give them space to feel what they are feeling. But at that age, they have limited language to express it. We would say it is OK to cry and share your feelings - but if they do not want to, that's fine too. It is a terrible thing to deal with.'

Meanwhile, the Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales has urged police to do more to make the streets safer for women. 

Furious campaigners and a handful of MPs have demanded that public spaces be made safer for women in the wake of a string of high-profile murders this year.

Parallels are being drawn to the horrific murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard in March, amid fresh fury that women could not walk through Britain's streets alone without fearing for their lives. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry insisted the area remains 'safe for women' despite mounting pressure from women's safety campaigners who are urging officers to do more to protect them on Britain's streets. 

But Dame Vera Baird, who attended a vigil to the murdered 28-year-old in Wood Green, north London, on Friday, argued there needs to be more onus on police to protect the public than on women to take precautions.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Apparently the police have been giving out rape alarms to women and giving leaflets out saying how to stay safe in a public place.

'It is less, isn't it, about giving women leaflets on keeping themselves safe in dangerous places and more about the police making the streets safe for women?'

When it was put to her that there needed to be societal change along with police intervention, Dame Vera replied: 'It certainly isn't just a job for the police but, look, the police do have a very key role here.'

She added: 'Three-quarters of women over 16 have been harassed in a public place and don't feel safe.

'They need to know that the police understand that and will use all the powers they have got to keep the streets safe.'

Hundreds of mourners, including Ms Nessa's sister Jebina Yasmin Islam, attended an emotional candlelit vigil in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, south-east London, where she had been heading to the pub on the evening she was killed.

Jebina broke down in tears as she paid tribute to her sister and addressed crowds at the vigil, saying her world had been completely 'shattered' following the loss of Sabina.

A separate rally earlier in the evening at East London Mosque heard powerful testimony from other members of Ms Nessa's family.

It comes as police are understood to believe the prime suspect in the Sabina Nessa murder is still at large after releasing two men they had arrested for the teacher's killing.

Detectives are appealing for information about a man who was captured on CCTV in Pegler Square, south east London, on the night Sabina, 28, was attacked.

Two men who were arrested in connection with the alleged murder have been released under investigation, the Metropolitan Police confirmed.

Sabina left her home on Astell Road after arranging to meet a friend at The Depot bar in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke Village, south-east London, last Friday night but never made it. 

Police believe she was attacked in the busy Cator Park at around 8.30pm with her body being found by a member of the public almost 24 hours later near the OneSpace community centre.

No one reported Sabina missing after she failed to make the rendez-vous, said police, but her housemate has now spoken out on the horrifying ordeal and shared her unease.

She told the Guardian: 'I never thought something like this could happen to her. I had been texting her and it's not like her to not reply to my messages.

'I don't feel safe living here now.' 

Scotland Yard appealed for information on the man shown, and a silver vehicle that was seen in the area, and asked the public to come forward with information 

Well-wishers laid flowers and lit candles around a placard calling to 'end male violence' at a vigil in memory of killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Earlier, detectives had speculated whether the attack had been carried out by a stranger and were 'keeping an open mind' on the killer's motive. 

On the same day Sabina was found, a man in his 40s and known to her was the first to be arrested on suspicion of her murder. He was later released under investigation.

A 38-year-old man who was arrested on Thursday at an address in Lewisham in connection with the murder of has also been released under investigation. 

The man in the CCTV footage, who is dressed in casual clothing and appears to be clutching an object in his right hand, was in the area where Nessa was found dead on the night she was attacked, according to police.

A 12-second clip shows a bearded and balding man wearing a black hooded coat and grey jeans looking over his shoulder and pulling at his hood as he walks down Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, south-east London. 

Detectives have also released an image, captured in the same area, of a silver car they believe the man has access to and appealed for anyone who recognised either to contact the force immediately. 

Detective chief inspector Neil John, from the Met's Specialist Crime Command, said 'an extensive trawl' of CCTV in the area continued and said information on the man's identity and whereabouts could be 'vital' to the investigation. 

DCI John added: 'We want to thank those who have shared our image appeal over the last 24 hours – it has gained a huge amount of coverage and we are extremely grateful for the public's help.

'We are now a week on from Sabina's murder and while we have made good progress with our investigation we must keep this appeal for information going and encourage anyone who has any information to come forward.' 

Anyone with information on the man's identity is urged to call the incident room on 0208 721 4266 or Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

Together the crowd said her name, Sabina Nessa, as they vowed she would not be forgotten and her murder would not go unchallenged

Women hold candles at a vigil for killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, in south east London

Campaigners against violence to women stood together to remember Sabina Nessa who was killed just yards from her south London home as police continued to comb the site for clues

Well-wishers and campaigners shed tears as they gathered for a vigil in memory of killed 28-year-old primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

People light candles during a vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa, a teacher who was murdered in south east London last Friday

CCTV believed to be showing the attack, first reported by the Daily Telegraph, sees an assailant apparently striking Sabina on the head with an object moments after she left her house. Detectives have declined to comment on these reports. 

Earlier, detectives had speculated whether the attack had been carried out by a stranger and were 'keeping an open mind' on the killer's motive. 

More than 500 campaigners and well-wishers gathered in Pegler Square for a vigil on Friday with supporters arriving on foot, by bicycle and on the train to attend the memorial at the heart at the south London housing estate. Many had brought their young children, others had brought their dogs. 

The vigil came as Kate Middleton said she was 'saddened by the loss of another innocent young woman on our streets'. 

Dozens lit candles and placed bunches of flowers as they stood around a makeshift stage to honour Sabina. 

And Downing Street also joined the vigil, placing a lantern on the front step of the Prime Minister's residence in memory of the killed primary school teacher.

Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher who was allegedly attacked and killed.   

Her sister Jebina Yasmin Islam told the crowd: 'We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early. 

Flowers left at the edge of the park where police have sealed off an area of meadow 

'Words cannot describe how we are feeling, this feels like we are stuck in a bad dream and can't get out of it. Our world is shattered, we are simply lost for words.' 

Scotland Yard wanted to avoid a repeat of the disastrous scene earlier this year during a vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard.

Met chiefs were accused of being heavy-handed with female demonstrators at the height of Covid-19 restrictions, when large public gatherings were banned. 

Kidbrooke Village residents Roxana Chelaru and husband Ionut told how they no longer feel safe in their home.

Roxana told MailOnline: 'We live two minutes from where this poor young woman was murdered. We walk our dog in the park where she was killed. Sometimes I walk him there at night when it is dark.

'We thought this was a nice place to live with other families. But now I don't feel safe.

'But tonight we want to show solidarity with this poor woman. This should not happen.'

Husband Ionut added: 'It's very sad. Now I am worried about my wife. Often she must walk back from the station alone. After what has happened we don't want to live here anymore.'

Michael Stacey and wife Seychelle brought their six year old daughter Olivia to the vigil because Sabina Nessa was her teacher.

Mr Stacey, 42, a printer told MailOnline: 'I don't know what to say. It's a terrible thing to happen. She was a lovely woman and a great teacher. Olivia loved her. So we're here to pay our respects. It's the least we can do.'  

 Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the teacher who was allegedly attacked and killed

Ms Nessa had planned to start a new life teaching young children in the Middle East before she was allegedly attacked and murdered during a five-minute walk through an east London park. 

The teacher, who had gone through a break up with her partner, had hoped to move to Dubai, according to LBC. 

A close friend told the radio station: 'She just wanted to live life.

'She wanted to go to Dubai or the UAE and teach children there.'  

Speaking of the vigil, Jamie Klingler, co-founder of the Reclaim The Streets pressure group, said Londoners had to come together to defend women against violence.

She told MailOnline: 'This has been a terrible tragedy and everyone has been affected by this latest act of violence.

'But the community has come together to stand up against violence to women.'  

Eltham MP Clive Efford told Ms Nessa's family: 'With everything that you are going through, these people are here for you.'

He told the crowd that the police 'officers here are also parents and they are just as determined to see justice to Sabina's family as anyone else, I have witnessed that this week.'

He also told those gathered that they will need to go back into their communities to make a difference in the way that women are treated, and the levels of respect given to everyone. 

Meanwhile, police declined to comment on reports in the Daily Telegraph that Sabina was hit on the head yards from her home by an assailant wielding a weapon, then slung over his shoulder and dumped in a park in an attack caught on CCTV.

Footage showed Sabina being struck on the head by an assailant wielding a weapon just moments after she left her flat, before she was slung over his shoulder and dumped in a local park, it is claimed. 

Sabina's family released a new statement reiterating their shock over her horrifying murder after the further details of the case were reported.  

A forensic officer combs the area around Pegler Square as part of a murder probe into the death of 28-year-old primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Sabina's sister Jebina Yasmin Islam said: 'We as a family are shocked of the murder of our sister, daughter and aunty to my girls.

'There are no words to describe how we are feeling as a family at the moment. We did not expect that something like this would ever happen to us.

'I urge everyone to walk on busy streets when walking home from work, school or a friend's homes. Please keep safe. 

'I ask you to pray for our sister and make dua (supplication) for her. May Allah grant her paradise.' 

Assistant Commissioner Rolfe said the Metropolitan Police is not asking women to change their behaviour when going out at night in light of the murder of Sabina Nessa.  

Sabina was taking a five-minute walk to meet a friend at The Depot bar in Pegler Square near her home in Kidbrooke, south-east London, on September 17 at around 8.30pm when she was attacked. 

It is believed that she was walking through Cator Park towards The Depot bar on Pegler Square, Kidbrooke Village, where she planned to meet a man for a first date.

Sabina never arrived at the pub and was allegedly murdered as she walked through the park, according to police.

But reports have claimed that Sabina was just minutes from her home when she was attacked near the OneSpace Community Centre in Cator Park at around 8.30pm on Friday, September 17. 

A member of the public found her body close to the OneSpace community centre in Cator Park on Saturday at around 5.30pm.

A post-mortem examination was inconclusive and further tests will now be carried out to establish a cause of death.  

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 0208 721 4266 or Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111. 


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