Zara Aleena's aunt steps up campaign to force convicted killers to face families in court

  • Kaf Okpattah met Farah Naz as she took her campaign to the Justice Secretary

The aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena has stepped up her campaign to force convicted killers to face victims' families in court. Farah Naz said too many murderers skipped court during sentencing in what amounted to a 'slap in the face' for friends and relatives. Jordan McSweeney, 29, was handed a life sentence and jailed for at least 38 years after admitting sexually assaulting and Zara Aleena in Ilford in June last year. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 38 years but did not appear for sentencing. "Victims need to be empowered, so I’m talking about the Victims Bill and the justice system, and what we have been through in the last year and how disempowered we felt," Farah Naz told ITV News London. "The ultimate removal of power was to steal one of her own to kill her for nothing. How do we make sense of that? "What is going to be done about convicts avoiding sentence?" she added.

Jordan McSweeney filmed by police during his arrest Credit: Metropolitan Police

Farah met with Justice Secretary Alex Chalk who promised to push forward legislation, but it's a pledge Zara's aunt has heard before with three former justice secretaries. She added: "If there is one thing that covers it all it’s that we need to confront the issue of violence towards women. "The state, leaders, communities and individuals we need to confront and disrupt male toxicity and challenge this issue that leads to murder and to Zara’s murder. "If I wasn’t hopeful it wouldn’t be worth me standing here. "The vision is, we see things better and a society were women can walk freely without fear of violence. "Now we need to talk about the ‘how’ and those people who formulate the law."

Before her death, Ms Aleena had started work with the Crown Prosecution Service in a two-year placement to qualify as a solicitor, having completed her legal practice course. She was sexually assaulted and killed by recently released offender Jordan McSweeney, 29, as she returned from a night out.

In a statement the Ministry of Justice said: "Perpetrators of such crimes should face the consequences of their actions by attending court - that's why we are workijg on proposals to change the law so families see justice being served."

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