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Man admits to murdering and sexually assaulting Zara Aleena in Ilford

McSweeney had recently been released from prison when he killed Zara Aleena (Credit: Metropolitan Police)

A man has pleaded guilty to murdering and sexually assaulting a 35-year-old law graduate in Ilford.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, attacked Zara Aleena while she was walking home after a night out with friends in the centre of the town.

McSweeney, who had recently been released from prison, dragged her into the front garden of a property in Cranbrook Road and started assaulting her shortly after 2am on 26 June.

Zara suffered a significant head injury during the assault and was sexually assaulted.

Passers-by came to her aid and one woman gave her CPR until an ambulance arrived. She was then taken to hospital where she died later that morning.

Zara Aleena had recently started working at the Royal Courts of Justice (Credit: MPS)

Detectives immediately started investigating the attack and found Zara’s belongings strewn along the road and in gardens near to where she had been attacked.

They collected CCTV footage which revealed McSweeney had climbed over a fence in Valentines Park after making off from the murder scene. Officers were sent to the park and he was found in a caravan in a funfair site where he had been working.

McSweeney was arrested on suspicion of murder and charged in the early hours of 29 June.

He admitted to murder and sexual assault at the Old Bailey on Friday, 18 November. He is due to be sentenced at the same court on Wednesday, 14 December.

“This was a brutal attack on a lone woman walking home on a residential street,” said Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams, who led the investigation. “She had every right to be there, to feel safe and to get home unharmed but instead she was the victim of shocking violence.

“My thoughts are with Zara’s family and friends. I cannot imagine the pain they have experienced over the past five months. It is clear she was truly loved by those who knew her.”

“I would like to acknowledge the actions of passers-by and residents in the early hours of that morning. I am sure what they witnessed will stay with them forever and I want to acknowledge how they responded in a calm and brave way as they tried to come to Zara’s aid.

“I would also like to offer my thanks to those at the funfair in Valentines Park who assisted this investigation and who allowed us to carry out our enquiries in the days that followed the attack. I want to be clear that while McSweeney had been working and staying on the site, there is no information to suggest anyone else there had any knowledge of his terrible crimes.

“McSweeney is clearly a very dangerous individual and this plea means he is now certain to serve a lengthy sentence behind bars. Women in London are safer with him off the streets.”

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