Jordan McSweeney appears at the Old Bailey charged with murdering Zara Aleena


Zara Aleena’s killer dragged her into driveway and repeatedly stamped on the aspiring lawyer, 35, after trying to rape her, court hears as murder suspect is remanded in custody

  • Jordan McSweeney charged with the murder of Ms Aleena in Ilford, east London
  • He was remanded in custody at HMP Thameside after a short hearing today  
  • Police believe Ms Aleena was the victim of an ‘opportunistic stranger attack’ 

An alleged killer accused of beating aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena to death as she walked home from a night out was today remanded in custody after appearing at the Old Bailey. 

Jordan McSweeney allegedly dragged the 35-year-old law graduate into a driveway on the early hours of Sunday morning and repeatedly stamped on her after trying to rape her, the court heard.

Police have said they believe Ms Aleena was the victim of an ‘opportunistic stranger attack’. 

McSweeney, from Dagenham, east London, is also accused of robbing the law graduate of her mobile phone, keys and handbag, and attempted penetration without consent, the court heard. 

He has been charged with murder, robbery and attempted rape. 

McSweeney, from Dagenham, east London, (seen today in a court sketch) is also accused of robbing the law graduate of her mobile phone, keys and handbag, and attempted penetration without consent

Police have said they believe Ms Aleena was the victim of an 'opportunistic stranger attack'

Police have said they believe Ms Aleena was the victim of an ‘opportunistic stranger attack’

Emergency services were called at 2.45am on June 26 after Ms Aleena was found bleeding and struggling to breathe with serious head injuries in a driveway in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, the court was told. 

She was dragged onto the driveway – just 10 minutes from her home – before being kicked and stamped on, prosecutors allege. 

During a hearing today, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said: ‘The defendant has been charged in connection with the violent death of Zara Aleena who was attacked in the early hours of Sunday, June 26.

‘Emergency services were called after her body was discovered in a driveway in Cranbrook Road. She was bleeding, struggling to breathe having clearly sustained serious head injuries and she was also partially naked.’

A post-mortem examination revealed that she had suffered ‘multiple serious injuries’. 

The court heard that Ms Aleena had been ‘dragged onto the driveway before being forced to the ground’, and then ‘kicked and stamped on repeatedly’ during the course of the vicious attack.

Mr Glasgow said that she had ‘no chance of survival’ after she was ‘followed’ and attacked. By the time paramedics arrived at the scene, she was ‘already fatally wounded’, the court was told.

Appearing at the Old Bailey via CVP link from HMP Thameside wearing a green jumper, McSweeney only spoke to confirm his name and date of birth.  

Before the hearing was due to start, a prison officer informed the court that McSweeney was becoming ‘quite agitated’ in the holding cell. 

Throughout the short hearing, he fiddled with the microphone before placing his head in his hands on the table.

Miss Aleena was dragged onto the driveway - just 10 minutes from her home - before being kicked and stamped on, prosecutors allege

Miss Aleena was dragged onto the driveway – just 10 minutes from her home – before being kicked and stamped on, prosecutors allege

In an emotional tribute, her family described her as ‘the rock of our family’ and called for an end to violence against women. 

In their statement, they said: ‘Zara was brought up by the whole of our family. She was our love in human form. At the age of five she said she was going to be a lawyer.

‘Shrieking with joy when she spotted the birds as a child – she would giggle and make us laugh. She was always the bigger person in any situation. She was authentic and refused to try and impress anyone but she impressed us. 

‘She was the rock of our family. Zara was stoic and held it all together and never complained. She glued our community together.’

Ms Aleena had recently begun working as an administrative assistant at the Royal Courts of Justice after extensive studying, and was hoping to becoming a lawyer.

 Judge Mark Lucraft QC remanded McSweeney into custody and a plea hearing date has been set for September 30 at the Old Bailey. 

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