Zara Aleena’s ‘brutal’ murder could have been prevented, says aunt after inquest

Farah Naz, the aunt of Zara Aleena, has said “her brutal murder could and should have been prevented” following the conclusion of an inquest which found that failures by multiple agencies contributed to her death.

Jordan McSweeney killed the 35-year-old law graduate as she walked home from a night out in Ilford in the early hours of June 26 2022, nine days after he was released from prison.

The inquest’s jury found “Zara’s death was contributed to by the failure of multiple state agencies to act in accordance to policies and procedures – to share intelligence, accurately assess risk of serious harm, (and) act and plan in response to the risk in a sufficient, timely and co-ordinated way”.

Zara Aleena death
Zara Aleena (Family handout/Met Police)

In a statement, Ms Naz said her family remain “devastated by our enormous loss”.

“Zara should be alive today,” she said.

“Her brutal murder could and should have been prevented. It is clear from the evidence we have heard that there are significant issues of under-resourcing across the system.”

The inquest’s jury found there were “significant failures to appropriately assess risk by HMPPS (HM Prison and Probation Service) – the risk registered at medium and should have been high from February 2021″.

These included a failure to identify “significant events” which should have led to the risk being re-evaluated, and that information sharing, decision making, supervision and training were “inadequate”.

Ms Naz said there were instances where responsibilities were not carried out “effectively, professionally and within necessary timelines”.

She said those involved failed to show initiative, and there were “glaring gaps” in knowledge among some officers in prison probation, community probation and the police.

“We also learnt that some operational policies are not fit for purpose,” Ms Naz said.

“We hope that lessons will be learned, improvements will be made and discussions will be facilitated as a result of this inquest.

“We must hold on to the hope that this verdict will help protect the lives of women and girls from male violence.”

She added she remains committed to campaigning to end male violence against women and girls in Ms Aleena’s name.

“We hope Zara’s legacy will be real change for women and girls,” Ms Naz said.

McSweeney was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 38 years at the Old Bailey in December 2022 after admitting Ms Aleena’s murder and sexual assault.

In November 2023, he won a Court of Appeal bid to reduce the minimum term of his life sentence.