Zara Aleena was allegedly murdered by a stranger yards from her front door. The law graduate, 35, is believed to have been punched to the ground in a terrifying attack in Ilford, East London in the early hours of Sunday morning.
A man will appear in court charged with the murder of a woman in Ilford. Jordan McSweeney – 29 (26.03.93) of no fixed abode will appear in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 29 June charged with the murder of 35-year-old Zara Aleena, attempted rape and robbery. This follows an investigation by homicide detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.
An investigation was launched after police were called at 02:44hrs on Sunday, 26 June to reports of woman suffering injuries in Cranbrook Road, Ilford. Zara was found suffering head injuries – she was taken to hospital where she died later that morning.
Neighbours in Cranbrook Road called 999 after hearing screams from the street. However, in spite of the efforts of paramedics and police, Ms Aleena couldn’t be saved.
CCTV footage from 2.48am that night – around half-an-hour after Ms Aleena was fatally injured – shows a man walking quickly past a shop. He then breaks into a run. The same man was also captured at 2.05am. Ms Aleena walked past five minutes later. The shopkeeper told the Daily Mail: “Police came to my shop and asked to see my CCTV footage.
“They showed me the poor young woman walking past my shop. And they showed me the footage of the murder suspect walking past the shop a few minutes earlier.” Meanwhile, it’s understood other cameras along the street have captured Ms Aleena confronting a man close to a bus stop in Cranbrook Road at 2.13am.
In separate footage, she speaks to the man before quickly walking away. The man lights a cigarette before apparently following after her at a distance of around 10ft.
The man in the footage wears white trainers and a distinctive two-tone jacket. Uni of Westminster graduate Ms Aleena was killed at 2.20am, less than ten minutes after she confronted the man in the footage.
Four minutes before her death, a marked police car drove past as she walked along with the man behind her, CCTV shows. A 29-year-old man was arrested on Monday on suspicion of her murder. Ms Aleena is the 16th woman and the 52nd man murdered by a man in the UK in 2022. Her death has been likened to the tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, of Scotland Yard, said it’s believed Ms Aleena “was the victim of an opportunist stranger attack”. “Tackling violence against women and girls is an absolute priority for the Met. Every day our officers are working with partners across the capital to improve safety in our public spaces,” he added.
The ratio is higher than the same time last year, when 13 out of 60 victims were female. One man, whose house is close to the scene, said: “My neighbour heard a woman screaming. It was very late. The next thing we knew there was a helicopter and police dog barking. When we discovered what happened it was sheer horror.”
Another man said the incident happened directly outside his house. He said: “My wife heard a man shouting. Then a little later there were police and flashing lights everywhere. We thought it was some drunk. Now I feel guilty I could have helped. If only I had gone out. We had no idea that something so horrible has happened outside our home.”