Zara Aleena murder accused remanded in custody at Old Bailey

·2 min read
 (PA)
(PA)

The man accused of murdering aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena in a “brutal onslaught” of violence as she walked home has been remanded in custody.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, allegedly attacked Ms Aleena after trailing her through the streets of Ilford, leaving her fatally injured and struggling to breathe on the driveway of a residential home.

The alleged murder happened about 2.45am on June 26, when Ms Aleena was walking home alone from a night out with friends.

McSweeney, who is accused of murder, robbery, and attempted rape, appeared via videolink from HMP Thameside on Friday morning for a hearing at the Old Bailey.

“The defendant has been charged in connection with the violent death of Zara Aleena, who was attacked in the early hours of the morning of June 26”, said prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC.

“Emergency services were called after her body was discovered in a driveway on Cranbrook Road.

“She was bleeding, struggling to breathe, and had clearly sustained serious head injuries. She was also partially naked.”

The prosecutor said paramedics made efforts to save her life, but the 35-year-old “was clearly already fatal wounded as a result of the onslaught”.

McSweeney, from Dagenham, was remanded in custody by Recorder of London Judge Mark Lucraft QC until a plea hearing on September 30. He spoke only to confirm his identity, and has not yet entered any pleas.

The judge said a trial date in January or February next year was a possibility.

In a tribute released on Wednesday, Ms Aleena’s family described her as “a beloved human, child, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend to all, she was a joy to all of us.

“She was a carer for her mother, and her grandmother. Caring for others came so naturally to her. Zara was friendly, she was everybody’s friend. She was everybody’s daughter, everybody’s niece, everybody’s sister, everybody’s cousin. She was pure of heart,” they added.

Flowers and candles were left on Cranbrook Road on Tuesday with friends and family writing messages. Ms Aleena studied law at the University of Westminster and had been working at the Royal Courts of Justice as an administrative officer since May.

Her family said she recently completed a Legal Practice Course to be able to practise as a solicitor.

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