Zara Aleena murder: Jordan McSweeney admits kicking law graduate to death

Zara Aleena murder: Jordan McSweeney admits kicking law graduate to death

A sexual predator described as a “danger to any woman” has pleaded guilty to the murder of Zara Aleena.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, also admitted sexually assaulting the law graduate as she walked home from a night out in east London last summer.

Ms Aleena, 35, died from multiple injuries after she was kicked and stamped on by McSweeney, from Dagenham.

She was discovered in Ilford by passers-by in the early hours of 26 June.

Ms Aleena, who was left partially naked and struggling to breathe, was taken to hospital where she died later that morning.

McSweeney, who had only recently been released from prison, had 28 previous convictions for offences, including assault.

At the time of the killing, McSweeney was free on licence from a sentence for criminal damage, racially aggravated harassment and unauthorised possession of a knife in prison.

The BBC understands that two days before the killing, his licence was revoked by the Probation Service due to missed appointments and that although the matter was being processed by the authorities, McSweeney had not been officially recalled at that point.

Sentencing was adjourned until 14 December by Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb.

Ms Aleena’s family, some of whom were in court, described her as “independent, big-hearted and a joy”.

Her aunt said Ms Aleena had been conscious of the dangers to women after recent high-profile cases, but she had felt safe walking in the community where she was well known.

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CCTV footage recovered by police showed McSweeney following a number of women that evening.

Prosecution barrister Oliver Glasgow KC described the assault as a “stranger attack on a lone female late at night making her way home”, adding that Ms Aleena “stood no chance of survival”.

The Crown Prosecution Service said McSweeney “was intent that night on finding a woman to attack”.

Ms Aleena’s aunt 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.”

The law graduate, who had recently begun working at the Royal Courts of Justice, was “the happiest she had ever been”, her family said.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Det Ch Insp David Whellams from the Met Police said Ms Aleena “had every right to feel safe” but “instead she was a victim of shocking violence”.

After the killing, other CCTV footage captured McSweeney returning to his caravan in Dagenham in east London, where police recovered Ms Aleena’s bloodstained clothes.

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

The Old Bailey was told he had 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.

Friday’s plea hearing had been delayed because the defendant contracted Covid in custody.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told McSweeney: “You pleaded guilty to very serious matters. I’m sure you appreciate the kind of sentence you will receive.

“But I will listen very carefully to the Crown’s opening of the case and the submissions on your behalf, so it’s in your interests to co-operate with those representing you.”