A man charged with murdering Zara Aleena in east London on Sunday has appeared in court and also faced charges that he tried to rape her and robbed her.
Jordan McSweeney, 29, was remanded into custody after a short hearing at Thames magistrates court.
He spoke only to confirm his full name, date of birth, and an address in Dagenham, east London. No plea was indicated and he was remanded to attend the Old Bailey on 27 July. He will next appear on 1 July for a bail application.
The court heard that Aleena, 35, was attacked at around 2am on Sunday on Cranbrook Road in Ilford, near to where she lived. Her mobile phone, keys and handbag were said to have been stolen.
Aleena was found with extensive head injuries at 2.44am by passersby. Police said a postmortem found no evidence of the use of a weapon to inflict the injuries.
Aleena’s family and friends were present in court. In a statement released through the police on Wednesday, her family said their loss was “irreparable and the void feels insurmountable”.
Aleena wanted to be a solicitor and had a law degree from the University of Westminster. Since May she had been working as an administrative officer at the Royal Courts of Justice, and had previously worked to resettle refugees.
The family statement said: “Zara was happy and at a point in her life when her joy was radiating and blossoming. 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. A carefree spirit, with the most caring heart.”