Zara Aleena: Man charged with murder over ‘stranger attack’ in Ilford

A 29-year-old man has been charged with the murder of aspiring lawyer Zara Aleenawho was ambushed in a ‘stranger attack’ in Ilford.

Jordan McSweeney, of no fixed abode, has also been charged with attempted rape and robbery.

Ms Aleena, 35, 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.

Zara Aleena was ‘attacked by a stranger’ while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday


Ms Aleena’s family issued a statement on Tuesday saying that her “tragic, brutal, inhumane death… has no place in this society.”

“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.”

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.”

The 29-year-old suspect was arrested at an address in Ilford shortly after 4pm on Monday.

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