Zara Aleena: Jordan McSweeney charged with murder of 35-year-old law graduate

Jordan McSweeney, 29, will appear in custody at Thames Magistrates' Court later today

A 29-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Zara Aleena in east London.

Ms Aleena, 35, was found with “serious head injuries” in Cranbrook Road at around 2:45 am on Sunday (26 June) and died in hospital later that morning.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, of no fixed address, has also been charged with attempted rape and robbery, the Metropolitan Police said.

He will appear in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court later on Wednesday (29 June).

Zara Aleena, 35, who was beaten to death in Cranbrook Road, Ilford. Credit: Met Police

What happened? 

Ms Aleena, 35, was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police said Ms Aleena suffered serious head injuries, which were confirmed in a post-mortem examination, but no weapons are thought to have been used.

Tributes were paid to Ms Aleena following her death.

In a long statement released via the Met Police Ms Aleena’s family said she was a “pure of heart” with “sparkling eyes” and “glorious laughter”.

It read: “Zara, 35, 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.”

The statement added: “Our loss is irreparable and the void feels insurmountable but the warmth and kindness that our community has shown is testament to the power of Zara’s spirit.

“Her life has been stolen from us. She has been stolen from us all.”

On Tuesday, Ms Aleena’s friend Sophie told BBC News: “She was just a kind soul, the sweetest girl, she could never harm a fly.

“Always polite, always bubbly, the sweetest girl that you could ever meet really. So much going for her.”

Her family said Ms Aleena had been on a two year placement with the Crown Prosecution Service to become a solicitor, and the University of Westminster confirmed she was a law graduate who last year gained a postgraduate diploma in legal practice.

A spokeswoman said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news that our former law school student and graduate Zara Aleena has lost her life in such a tragic way. Our thoughts are with Zara’s family and loved ones at this dreadful time.

“Zara was awarded the LLB with honours in 2011 and the postgraduate diploma in legal practice in 2021. She is remembered clearly and fondly by all who taught her.

“She was a warm, gentle and open young woman, popular with both staff and fellow students. She would often go out of her way to help others.

“We have pastoral support available for our students and colleagues affected by the tragic news.”

Ms Aleena was working as an administrative officer at the Royal Courts of Justice, according to reports.