Man charged with murder of law graduate Zara Aleena

·2 min read

A 29-year-old man has been charged with the murder of 35-year-old Zara Aleena in east London.

Jordan McSweeney, of no fixed address, has also been charged with attempted rape and robbery, the Metropolitan Police said.

McSweeney will appear in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court later on Wednesday.

Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police said Ms Aleena suffered serious head injuries, which was confirmed in a post-mortem examination.

No weapons are thought to have been used.

In a tribute released after her death, Ms Aleena’s family said the law graduate “believed that a woman should be able to walk home”, adding: “Women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, 10 minutes from home.”

The statement said Ms Aleena had wanted to be a lawyer since the age of five, and described her as “a carefree spirit, with the most caring heart”.

“Zara was happy and at a point in her life when her joy was radiating and blossoming,” her family said.

A police cordon at the scene in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, where a murder investigation is under way
Zara Aleena was allegedly murdered while walking home from a night out (Luke O’Reilly/PA)

“She was ready to make a family of her own. Her sense of justice and fairness led her to a life of giving and caring for others – supporting refugees fleeing violence, giving voice to those who had less power.

“She had that special habit of noticing others in need and always put their needs on her agenda.”

“Our loss is irreparable and the void feels insurmountable”, the statement added.

The University of Westminster said Ms Aleena was a law graduate who last year gained a postgraduate diploma in legal practice.

A spokeswoman said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news that our former law school student and graduate Zara Aleena has lost her life in such a tragic way. Our thoughts are with Zara’s family and loved ones at this dreadful time.

“Zara was awarded the LLB with honours in 2011 and the postgraduate diploma in legal practice in 2021. She is remembered clearly and fondly by all who taught her.

“She was a warm, gentle and open young woman, popular with both staff and fellow students. She would often go out of her way to help others.

“We have pastoral support available for our students and colleagues affected by the tragic news.”

According to reports, Ms Aleena was working as an administrative officer at the Royal Courts of Justice.

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