‘Murdered’ primary school teacher, 28, whose body was found in Greenwich Park was only ‘minutes’ from home when she was killed, her cousin says, as he pays tribute to ‘beautiful soul’

  • Sabina Nessa was ‘minutes’ from home before she was attacked in Cator Park 
  • Her body was discovered under a pile of leaves in park by a passing dogwalker
  • Man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of murder but later released by police 
  • Tributes from family and peers flooded in for 28-year-old primary school teacher

Family members have revealed a ‘murdered’ schoolteacher was ‘just minutes’ from her home before she died, as police continue to hunt for her ‘killer’.

The body of Sabina Nessa, 28, was discovered by a passing dogwalker under a pile of leaves near the OneSpace Community Centre in the busy Cator Park, south-east London.

Police are treating the case as a murder investigation, and believe a stranger may have targeted Ms Nessa before dumping her body in a meadow.

A man in his forties was arrested on suspicion of murder a few hours after her body was found by a dog walker. But yesterday he was released under investigation pending further inquiries.

Speaking today, Nessa’s cousin Zubel Ahmed told ITV News the family remain ‘inconsolable’ and revealed she was just ‘five minutes’ from her own home.

He said: ‘The shock has not sunk in. She was a beautiful, kind, caring soul.

‘I express my deepest sympathies for her sisters, mum and dad are absolutely devastated. 

‘Nothing is making sense to us, why was she taken from us we just don’t know.

‘She was the sweetest person, sweetest girl, I don’t understand how someone can do this it’s a big loss to our family.’

Sabina Nessa, 28 was ‘just minutes’ from her home before police believe she was killed and dumped under a pile of leaves in the busy Cator Park, south east London

Officers were called at 5.32pm on Saturday after the teacher’s body was found near the OneSpace community centre, a popular area with families and dog walkers in Cator Park, Kidbrooke

A forensics tent in Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south east London, where the teacher was found dead

The primary school teacher, originally from Bedfordshire, is not believed to have been walking home, but walking through the park on her way to an undisclosed location when she was killed at around 8.30pm on Friday. 

Her body lay undiscovered for several hours because it was ‘off the main park walkway’, according to police. Officers fear she may have been attacked by a stranger. 

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

The Year 1 teacher had worked for just over a year at Rushey Green Primary School, three miles away in Catford. 

Before landing her first teaching job, she studied sociology at Greenwich University in south-east London and went on to complete a teaching postgraduate degree at the University of Bedfordshire. 

Miss Nessa also had a qualification from Cambridge to teach English as a foreign language. 

Headteacher at her Lewisham school, Lisa Williams, said yesterday: ‘We are devastated by Sabina’s tragic 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. 

‘As a school we are supporting each other through this very difficult time, and we will be providing specialist support to those who need it.’

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

On Friday, officers sealed off the area and were seen standing guard while investigators collected evidence

It comes as residents told MailOnline they now fear leaving their homes after dark following the death of Ms Nessa. 

Detectives are investigating whether she was attacked by a stranger – leaving locals fearful of returning to the usually busy park often packed with dog walkers and joggers.

One local resident aged 33 who only gave her named as Naey said: ‘I’ve been wary of going out after dark every since I heard about them finding the body.

‘I use the park to come from the station as a shortcut. There’s always people coming and going.

‘It’s scary and unnerving that it has happened so close to the main road. There surely must have been witnesses. I can’t quite believe it.’

George Williams, 41, who has operated his mobile fish and chip van Billingsgate Wrap regularly from the new Kidbrooke Village apartment complex over the last three years, said: ‘This is absolutely shocking.

‘If it is a random attack by a stranger then it is extremely worrying for everyone who lives around here.

‘I hope the police can catch whoever committed this terrible crime.

‘The park is very open and exposed but is usually pretty busy with joggers and walkers. Surely someone must have saw something.’

Officers revealed they were stepping up patrols and increasing their presence around the Kidbrooke Village neighbourhood for the next week.

Meanwhile, investigators told the Evening Standard that ‘a number of crime scenes are in place’ and a massive forensic inquiry is underway as they continue to investigate the alleged murder. 

A large section of Cator park between Cambert Way and the edge of the Kidbrooke Park Village housing development remains sealed off with police tape.

The cordoned off area includes the One Space Community Centre, tennis courts and skatepark.

A candlelit vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa is set to take place on Friday evening at Peglar Square.

Organisers are encouraging people to bring their own candles to light as they pay respects to Ms Nessa. 

Reclaim These Streets, an organisation campaigning for the safety of women and girls which planned a vigil for Sarah Everard in March, said in a statement: ‘We are angry and heartbroken to hear about the loss of yet another woman. 

‘This is an epidemic of violence against women. Enough with reports, what is the actual plan to keep us safe and alive?’

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