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Kent man in court accused of murdering trainee Royal Courts of Justice lawyer Zara Aleena

by Gwyn Wright

A Kent man is accused of stamping on a trainee lawyer after ambushing her as she walked home.

Zara Aleena, 35, was attacked in Ilford, east London, as she walked home at the weekend.

Zara Aleena was attacked on her way home from a night out
Zara Aleena was attacked on her way home from a night out

Jordan McSweeney, 29, formerly of Rochester, appeared at the Old Bailey this morning charged with her murder.

McSweeney, of Dagenham, east London, is also accused of trying to rape Ms Aleena as well as robbing her of her mobile phone, keys and handbag.

Zara was left bleeding and struggling to breathe with serious head injuries following the stranger attack, the court heard.

Her partially clothed body was found in the early hours last Sunday following the brutal assault.

CCTV shows her being pulled into a driveway and stamped on, the court was told.

Paramedics rushed to save her, but she died of head injuries in hospital shortly after being attacked on Cranbrook Road.

Oliver Glasgow QC, prosecuting, told the court: “The defendant has been charged in connection with the death of Zara Aleena which took place in the early hours of Sunday 26 June.

“Emergency services were called after her body was discovered on a driveway on Cranbrook Road.

“She was bleeding, struggling to breathe, had sustained serious head injuries and was partially naked.

“Paramedics attended and tried to give her life-saving first aid but her injuries were so severe they could not save her.”

Describing the CCTV, Mr Glasgow said: "A man can be seen to set about her, drag her to the driveway in Cranbrook Road, forcing her to the ground and can then be seen stamping repeatedly on her body."

McSweeney appeared via video link from HMP Thameside wearing a green jumper.

He was seen covering his face with his hands ahead of the hearing before sitting back in his chair.

During the hearing he spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

He will next appear at the Old Bailey on September 30 for a plea hearing.

McSweeney was remanded in custody and a plea hearing was scheduled for September. A trial is expected next year.

Ms Aleena's family paid tribute to her saying she was "radiating and blossoming" and "ready to make a family of her own".

They added: "These last few days have been shocking and unimaginable.

"Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger.

"We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, ten minutes from home."

Her family also said that Ms Aleena was on a two-year work placement with the Royal Courts of Justice.

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