Zara Aleena: Man charged with murder and attempted rape and robbery of aspiring solicitor

Jordan McSweeney appeared in court on Wednesday over the killing of 35 year-old aspiring solicitor in Ilford, east London

Police say murdered Zara Aleena likely the victim of ‘opportunist stranger attack’

The 29-year-old man charged with the murder of aspiring solicitor Zara Aleena tried to rape her and steal her handbag as she walked home, a court has heard.

Jordan McSweeney, who appeared at Thames Magistrates Court on Tuesday, was charged with attempting to rob the “beloved” 35-year-old of her mobile phone, keys and handbag and attempted rape.

McSweeney, from Dagenham, east London, spoke to confirm his name before his charges were read out and his case was transfered to the Crown Court.

Ms Aleena was found suffering from serious injuries in the early hours of Sunday morning by members of the public on Cranbrook Road, East London.

Chief Supt Stuart Bell said that there was no evidence that any weapons had been used in the attack, which left Ms Aleena with significant head injuries.

In a moving tribute, Ms Aleena’s family said that she loved to walk everywhere and they called for more to be done to prevent violence against women and girls.

“Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home,” they said. In a statement on Tuesday they said that her “tragic, brutal, inhumane death... has no place in this society.”

Zara Aleena was attacked while walking home in the early hours of Sunday

“She was attacked at 2:17am on Sunday 26th June as she walked home. She was ten minutes away from home.”

The family have organised a vigil for Ms Aleena on Saturday 2nd July at 1:30pm. In her memory, they will begin the walk at 2:17pm and will follow her journey home.

In a further tribute, published by the Met Police, Ms Aleena’s family described her as a “beloved human, child, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend to all.”

The scene near Cranbrook Road, East London where Zara Aleena was found suffering fatal injuries

“Caring for others came so naturally to her,” they said. “She was a joy to all of us, her sparkling eyes and the curly, jet-black hair. Her glorious laughter and her sweet, smiling voice. Her tiny frame embodied a passionate spirit and indomitable energy,” they added.

They described the aspiring solicitor as a hardworker: “Nobody worked harder than Zara” is what we heard from all who knew her.”

The last text Zara sent her friend Lisa Hodgson before her death

“Zara was happy and at a point in her life that she had worked hard for, she had completed her Legal Practice Course so that she could practise as a solicitor.

“She only recently started working for the Crown Prosecution Service, to complete her 2-year work placement in order to become a fully qualified solicitor. She was fierce: she didn’t just survive, she thrived.”

They explained that Ms Aleena liked to walk everywhere. “She put her party shoes in a bag and donned her trainers,” they said.

“She walked. Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home. Now her dreams of a family are shattered, her future brutally taken.”

Floral tributes left at the scene on Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London

In their tribute the family made a point of saying that Ms Aleena is “not the only woman who has lost her life like this.”

“In the moment of this tragedy, we extend our deepest sympathy and love to the families of Bibaa Henry; Nicole Smallman; Sarah Everard; Sabina Nessa; Ashling Murphy and many more women.

“We must PREVENT and STOP violence against women and girls,” they wrote.

In another emotional tribute on Monday, Ms Aleena’s best friend Lisa Hodgson shared the last text that she sent her.

On Friday, Ms Aleena had texted Ms Hodgson to tell her: “Miss your beautiful face this weekend xx can’t wait to see you next weekend xxx.”

Lisa Hodgson said she had been due to meet Ms Aleena over the weekend she was killed in Ilford, but the pair had rearranged their plans for a later date.

“I am completely broken,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I am shocked. I am angry. I feel sick to my stomach.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in