Dagenham man in court over Zara Aleena killing
- Credit: PA
A 29-year-old man from Dagenham charged with the killing of Zara Aleena has been remanded in custody.
Jordan McSweeney, of Church Elm Lane, is charged with murder, as well as attempted rape and robbery, Thames Magistrates’ Court heard this morning (Wednesday, June 29).
Zara, 35, was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in the early hours of Sunday morning (June 26).
The law graduate was walking in the direction of Gants Hill station when she was subjected to a "horrific assault".
McSweeney wore a grey tracksuit to the short five-minute hearing, during which no plea was indicated.
His face was expressionless and he spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.
In charges read to McSweeney, it was said he robbed Zara of her mobile phone, keys and handbag during the attack.
He was also accused of attempted penetration without consent.
McSweeney was denied bail and remanded in custody to attend the Old Bailey on July 27.
McSweeney will attend a bail hearing at the court on July 1.
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Some of Zara's family and friends were present at today's hearing.
Police said the 35-year-old suffered serious head injuries, which was confirmed in a post-mortem examination.
No weapons are thought to have been used.
In a tribute released after her death, Zara's family said: “Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home. Now, her dreams of a family are shattered, her future brutally taken."
A law graduate at The University of Westminster, Zara had gained a postgraduate diploma in legal practice last year.
Pastoral support is available for students and colleagues affected by the tragic news, a spokesperson has confirmed.
They added: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news that our former law school student and graduate Zara Aleena has lost her life in such a tragic way.
"Our thoughts are with Zara’s family and loved ones at this dreadful time.
“She is remembered clearly and fondly by all who taught her.
“She was a warm, gentle and open young woman, popular with both staff and fellow students. She would often go out of her way to help others."
A number of Zara's friends have also expressed their shock and sadness in the wake of her killing.
According to reports, the 35-year-old was working as an administrative officer at the Royal Courts of Justice.