Staff at a hotel were concerned about Koci Selamaj’s behavior and called police hours before he murdered Sabina Nessa, but officers failed to show up, it has been reported.
On the day of the murder, Selamaj, 36, a petrol station worker who lived in Eastbourne, stayed in a £300-400 room at the Grand Hotel in the seaside town, where his wife, Ionela worked. He had reserved a room three days earlier.
His wife had left him weeks earlier due to domestic abuse, including “choking” him at least three times, detectives said. While staying at the hotel, Selamaj proposed to his wife to have sex, which she refused.
Hotel staff, knowing Selamaj lived nearby, were uncomfortable with the reservation and called 101 to alert the police, detectives said. But Sussex Police did not send any officers.
Selamaj then drove from Eastbourne to Kidbrooke in south-east London, a suburb he would not have visited before, where he beat and strangled Nessa, 28, a primary school teacher who was unknown to him, as she walked through Cator. Park to meet a friend around 8:30 p.m. on September 17 last year.
Metropolitan Police detectives described it as a “premeditated sexually motivated murder”. Selamaj pleaded guilty in February to the murder.
DCI Neil John said: ‘We have a person who booked this hotel on the 17th. We know from speaking with his partner that he had asked her to meet in the car on the day of the 17th at the Grand Hotel where he had proposed to her a sexual relationship. She obviously said no.
Detectives said staff became concerned after Selamaj was asked to pay for the hotel room. DS Mark Johnson said: “A member of staff at the hotel called 101…They were a bit concerned about him. They knew he lived nearby so there was something wrong. not at his place.
DCI John said: ‘Hotel staff were uncomfortable with his behaviour. They just weren’t comfortable. He wondered and wondered why they wanted him to pay now.
Explaining Sussex Police’s decision not to show up, John added: ‘Police can’t go everywhere. The police operator did the right thing because at that time there was not much to worry about. The operator advised staff that the call had been reported, and if there was further cause for concern call the police back and they would reassess.
Sussex Police said: ‘Police were contacted at around 4.40pm on Friday September 17 to a disagreement between a man and staff at a hotel in Eastbourne earlier today over payment for a room . The case was resolved and the police were not obliged to be present.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which investigated the call, released a statement on Friday saying it was not investigating the incident.
A spokesperson said: ‘Information provided to us indicated that hotel staff had contacted the police to report that they were ‘acting strangely’ and refused to pay for their stay.
“The call handler carried out security checks on Koci Selamaj on their computer systems and determined that the bill had then been paid. We have advised Sussex Police that based on the information provided they are unresponsive the criteria for dismissal.
Nessa was hit around 34 times with a metal traffic warning triangle which Selamaj chose to use after buying a rolling pin from Sainsbury’s, before being strangled. His body was discovered 24 hours later covered in grass near a community center in the park. Her underwear was gone, her dress pulled up and her bra exposed.
On Thursday, the Old Bailey heard how Selamaj returned to the hotel at midnight after killing Nessa and left the next morning.
Selamaj’s wife told police she had left him weeks before. “We spoke with the woman and she disclosed that there was domestic violence in this relationship,” John said. “Part of this domestic violence involved up to three occasions when she was strangled in the neck. None of this had been reported to the police.
“When we spoke to her, she was very upset, very sensitive, as you can imagine, learning what her husband had done. She has now returned to Romania. It has had such an impact on her that she has decided to go home.
Using automatic number plate recognition cameras, detectives were able to track Selamaj’s return to Eastbourne via Kent. The murder weapon was found in the River Teise, Kent, but no forensic evidence could be recovered.
Officers said of his motive that it would be speculation to attribute it to his wife leaving him. “When he was warned he said ‘what if I open now?’ It was the only thing he said to the police throughout the investigation.