Sexual predator Jordan McSweeney recalled to prison days before murdering aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena as she walked home

18 November 2022, 14:10 | Updated: 18 November 2022, 18:30

Jordan McSweeney (left) brutally murdered Zara Aleena (right) as she waled home alone in Ilford from a night out
Jordan McSweeney (left) brutally murdered Zara Aleena (right) as she waled home alone in Ilford from a night out. Picture: Facebook and Alamy
Fran Way

By Fran Way

It has been revealed that the sexual predator who savagely killed Zara Aleena as she walked home alone from a night out in London had been recalled to prison just two days before.

He hadn’t been picked up by officers when he spent the night hunting for a woman to attack and chanced upon Zara on a residential street in Ilford, just 10 minutes away from her home.

Jordan McSweeney, who was released from jail just a week before the attack, today admitted murdering the law graduate, who was brutally kicked and stamped on, sexually assaulted, and then left for dead.

The 29-year-old, of Dagenham, Essex, had 28 previous convictions for 69 offences including assaulting police officers and members of the public while he was on bail.

The Ministry of Justice has begun an internal review.

A probation Service spokesperson said: “This was an appalling crime and our thoughts remain with Zara Aleena's family and loved ones.

"A serious further offence review is underway and we will respond once this is completed.”

Court sketch of Jordan McSweeney
Court sketch of Jordan McSweeney. Picture: Alamy

Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow KC had said McSweeney launched an "attack upon a lone female late at night making her way home, a woman who stood no chance".

The defendant had dragged Ms Aleena into a driveway in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, east London, where he subjected her to a ferocious assault.

He sexually assaulted the law graduate and made off with her mobile phone, keys and handbag, the prosecution said.

Emergency services were called at 2.44am after she was found with severe head injuries, partially naked and struggling to breathe by a passerby.

Ms Aleena was taken to hospital where she died later that morning.

Zara Aleena
Zara Aleena. Picture: PA/ Family Handout

A post-mortem examination found she had suffered multiple serious injuries and died of severe head and neck wounds.

Police officers gathered CCTV footage, witness statements, DNA and fingerprint evidence.

Video footage from the area showed McSweeney appearing to target other women before he followed Ms Aleena.

After the killing, other CCTV captured him returning to his caravan in Dagenham, where police recovered Ms Aleena's bloodstained clothes.

More bloodstains were found on a wall in Cranbrook Road with the defendant's fingerprint identified on them.

Tributes left to Zara Aleena left at the scene of Cranbrook Drive
Tributes left to Zara Aleena left at the scene of Cranbrook Drive. Picture: Alamy

After his arrest, McSweeney refused to answer questions but told officers he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

While in custody, he was also said to have threatened police officers.

Having been charged with murder, he was remanded into custody after a judge found he was a "substantial risk" to the public, especially lone women.

At a previous hearing, the court was told McSweeney was a prolific offender and had been released from prison on licence on June 17 - just days before the murder.

He had been in prison for criminal damage, racially aggravated harassment and unauthorised possession of a knife in prison.

He has 28 convictions for 69 separate offences including burglary, theft of a vehicle, criminal damage, assaulting police officers and assaulting members of the public while on bail.

Speaking outside of the Central Criminal Court, DCI Dave Whellams, the investigating officer, said: "She was attacked while walking alone on a residential street. She had every right to be there. She had every right to be safe.

"Instead she was a victim of shocking violence.

"My thoughts are with her family and friends and I cannot imagine the pain they have experienced in the last 5-6 months. It was clear she was truly loved by all those who knew her.

"Tackling violence against women and girls and tracking down those who wish to do harm is one of the Met's highest priorities.

"We are working tirelessly alongside communities to make sure women can feel safer and crucially safer in our city.

"Jordan McSweeney has pleaded guilty today to one of the most serious offences, he's clearly a very dangerous individual and his guilty plea today means he's certain to serve a significant time behind bars."

Ms Aleena's family described her as independent, big-hearted and a joy.

Her aunt Farah Naz had said her niece had been conscious of the dangers for women after the murders of Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman, Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

But she had felt "safe" walking in the community where she was well known.

Ms Naz said: "Zara was not a woman who was unaware that there were dangers in the world. She did not imagine what happened to those women would happen to her.

"She didn't know she was going to be on this list because in her mind she took those precautions."

Ms Aleena had begun working at the Royal Courts of Justice five weeks before her death and was "the happiest she had ever been", her family said.

McSweeney is due to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court on 14 December.

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