Tributes paid to law graduate murdered as she walked home in Ilford

Photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Zara Aleena

Zara Aleena, who detectives believe was "attacked by a stranger" while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday - Credit: PA

Tributes have been paid to a 35-year-old law graduate who was murdered on her way home from a night out.

Zara Aleena was attacked by a stranger as she walked along Cranbrook Road, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

She was found suffering head injuries, and was taken to hospital where she tragically died later that morning. 

A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

Zara's friend Sophie described her as "just a kind soul, the sweetest girl".

"She could never harm a fly," she said.

“Always polite, always bubbly, the sweetest girl that you could ever meet really. So much going for her.”

According to reports, the 35-year-old had just passed her law degree and was working as an administrative officer at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Her profile on the career networking site LinkedIn said: “My excellent interpersonal skills mean that I like people and they like me. I have strong organisational skills. Additionally, I bring energy, enthusiasm and ambition to any job role that I am in.”

Another friend, Nadia, said: “She was a very gentle soul. She was very helpful to everyone and her neighbours.”

Police said Zara suffered multiple injuries and it appeared no weapon had been used in the attack.

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Figures from the Metropolitan Police show that 14 of the 44 victims of suspected homicides so far in 2022, not including Zara, were women.

In 11 of these cases the suspect is a relative or friend of the victim, another died in a house fire, and the relationship between suspect and victim in the remaining two is not yet clear.

It is rare for a victim to be murdered in the street by a stranger.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the year leading to the end of March 2021, six percent of female murder victims in England and Wales were killed by a stranger.

The number was 18 pc for male victims.