Violent past of evil killer who murdered Zara just nine days after his prison release

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A sexual predator who was described as a “danger to any woman” has pleaded guilty to the murder of Zara Aleena after his long history of violence was revealed. Jordan McSweeney, 29, admitted sexually assaulting and murdering the 35-year-old law graduate as she walked home after a night out in east London on June 26, 2021. McSweeney had been released from prison just nine days before the fatal attack, and the predator had a long history of violence towards women – including attacks on his ex-partners and a total of 28 previous convictions.

Described as a “ticking timebomb” by MyLondon, the Old Bailey was told he had 28 previous 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.

Zara Aleena had been dragged into a driveway on Cranbrook Road in Ilford while she was walking home from a night out at around 2am where she was brutally assaulted.

She was repeatedly stamped and kicked on, sexually assaulted and left for dead. After walking away, the sadistic predator then returned and stamped on her several more times before finally leaving.

A passer-by called the emergency services at 2.44am after discovering Zara. At the time, she was still alive, bleeding and struggling to breathe and was partially naked.

Despite being rushed to hospital, she tragically died a short while later. McSweeney, 29, was arrested in his caravan in Dagenham after police discovered her bloodstained clothing and CCTV evidence, as well as eyewitness accounts that pinpointed him as the key suspect. 

Appearing today at the Old Bailey, he pleaded guilty to her murder and a count of sexual assault.

After the hearing, Senior Crown Prosecutor Olcay Sapanoglu welcomed the guilty pleas, saying: “It was an horrific attack on a woman walking home after a night out with a friend. It appears clear that McSweeney was intent that night on finding a woman to attack. Having seen Zara walking home he decided to follow her.

“Having followed her for several minutes he pulled Zara into the driveway of a house, where he carried out his assault. He sexually assaulted her, then brutally stamped on her several times before appearing to walk away. Moments later he returned, only to stamp on her several times more and then, finally, leaving her for dead.

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“McSweeney did not display a shred of humanity towards Zara. Indeed, having completed his initial assault he returned to inflict further injuries, leading to her death. At no stage during his police interviews did he express any sorrow for his actions.

“Zara’s family will never recover from the senseless loss of their daughter, but I hope that these guilty pleas bring them some comfort. Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the police, who worked tirelessly to trace Zara’s killer allowing us to build the strongest case possible against McSweeney.”

According to reports, McSweeney had been prowling the streets following women just days before the fatal attack. He targeted one woman by following her for a significant amount of time and when she noticed, she ducked into a shop to ask for help. He persisted in following her into the shop where he tried to speak to her but she told him to leave her alone.

Feeling unsafe she waited in the shop for a long period of time in the hope that he would leave, and when she thought he had left she sprinted out. However, McSweeney had been waiting and he sprinted after her, chasing her down the street until she managed to lose him, reports MyLondon.

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And this isn’t the first time McSweeney has displayed violence towards women. Multiple exes of McSweeney claimed he was violent towards them. One former partner claimed he had savagely beat her, stamping on her face during an attack at a relative’s home. 

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.”

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



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