Murdered student’s aunt accuses Belmarsh of being a social club as killer ‘has sex with prison worker’

Arrested woman has been released under investigation over alleged relationship with Jordan McSweeney

Holly Evans
Wednesday 10 January 2024 22:46 GMT
Aunt of Zara Aleena calls for change after murderer has sentence reduced

The aunt of murdered Zara Aleena has accused prison bosses at the UK’s most secure jail of a “cover-up” after her killer was allegedly able to have sex with a female prison worker.

Farah Naz said there are unanswered questions for prison chiefs at HMP Belmarsh in south-east London, where her niece’s killer Jordan McSweeney is serving life.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed a 32-year-old woman was arrested and is being investigated over alleged misconduct in public office.

Farah Naz, Zara Aleena’s aunt, has said she is ‘deeply troubled’ by the allegations (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Farah Naz, Zara Aleena’s aunt, has said she is ‘deeply troubled’ by the allegations (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

“Is Belmarsh a social club or our country’s most high-security prison?” Ms Naz said in an interview with the Mirror. “There are serious questions to be answered and we need a public investigation. Zara doesn’t even get to breathe but her killer gets to have sex in prison.

“There has to be a cover-up inside Belmarsh for all those people not to know. Otherwise the system is working worse than we believed.”

Zara Aleena who was murdered by Jordan McSweeney in Ilford, east London (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Zara Aleena who was murdered by Jordan McSweeney in Ilford, east London (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Wire)

According to the newspaper, the woman was not a prison officer but had been employed in another capacity, and the alleged relationship is said to have begun just two months into McSweeney’s sentence.

In a meeting with justice secretary Alex Chalk last year, Ms Naz said he had been completely unaware of the alleged relationship and turned “bright red” when she raised it.

McSweeney had a number of previous convictions and had only been released from prison for nine days (Metropolitan Police/PA)
McSweeney had a number of previous convictions and had only been released from prison for nine days (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

She recalled: “At the end of the meeting I asked Alex Chalk, ‘What are you doing about what happened in Belmarsh prison?’ I was alluding to the sexual relationship Zara’s killer had been having. He went bright red. He said, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’.”

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Naz asked: "Why was a self-confessed sexually motivated murderer, whose crime was nationally recognized for its brutality, allowed proximity to a female worker lacking training and capacity for such situations?"

McSweeney, 30, was jailed after murdering 35-year-old Ms Aleena in June 2022 as she walked home from seeing a friend in Ilford.

In the hours before he brutally beat her to death, he was seen on CCTV stalking a number of other women before pursuing the law graduate down a residential street.

Jordan McSweeney allegedly had sex with a female prison worker at HMP Belmarsh
Jordan McSweeney allegedly had sex with a female prison worker at HMP Belmarsh (PA)

Over the course of nine minutes, he repeatedly struck her and sexually assaulted her, causing fatal injuries.

Upon his arrest, it emerged he had only been released from prison just nine days prior, after his licence was revoked for failing to meet probation officers. 

He had 28 convictions for 69 crimes and had served several stints in prison for burglary, violence and assaulting police officers.

Despite refusing to attend his sentencing at the Old Bailey, he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 38 years. To the disappointment of Ms Aleena’s family, the Court of Appeal reduced his sentence to 33 years last November.

A Met Police spokesperson said: “On 6 April 2023, the Met received an allegation of inappropriate conduct involving a serving member of staff at HMP Belmarsh.

“The same day, a 32-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office.

“She was bailed pending further enquiries until a date in late July. She was later released under investigation. Enquiries are ongoing.

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