Jordan McSweeney is charged with the murder of Zara Aleena

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

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

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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 while walking home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford towards Gants Hill railway station in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police said Ms Aleena suffered serious head injuries, which were confirmed at a post-mortem, but it is believed no weapons were used.

Tributes were paid to Mrs. Aleena after her death.

In a lengthy statement released via the Met Police, Ms Aleena’s family said she was a “pure heart” with “sparkling eyes” and a “gorgeous laugh”.

It read: “Zara, 35, a loved one, child, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend to all, she was a joy to all of us.

“She was a caregiver to her mother and grandmother. Taking care of others came so naturally to her.

“Zara was friendly, she was everyone’s friend. She was everybody’s daughter, everybody’s niece, everybody’s sister, everybody’s cousin. She was pure in heart.”

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

“Your life was stolen from us. It was stolen from all of us.”

On Tuesday, Ms Aleena’s friend Sophie told BBC News: “She was just a kind soul, the sweetest girl, she couldn’t touch a fly.

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

Her family said Ms Aleena completed a two-year internship with the Crown Prosecution Service to become a solicitor and the University of Westminster confirmed she was a law graduate who earned a postgraduate diploma in legal practice last year.

A spokeswoman said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the tragic death of our former law student and graduate Zara Aleena. Our thoughts are with Zara’s family and loved ones at this terrible time.

“Zara was awarded the LLB with Honors 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 who was popular with both staff and fellow students. She often did everything to help others.

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

Ms Aleena reportedly worked as an administrator at the Royal Courts of Justice. Jordan McSweeney is charged with the murder of Zara Aleena


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