Zara Aleena’s killer in Court of Appeal bid to reduce prison sentence

Zara Aleena Credit: PA Media

A sexual predator who stalked and murdered Zara Aleena is set to challenge his sentence at the Court of Appeal.

Jordan McSweeney targeted at least five women before he turned his attention to 35-year-old Ms Aleena as she walked home from a night out early on June 26 2022.

McSweeney stalked her along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London, before grabbing her from behind and dragging her into a driveway.

The attack, caught on grainy CCTV, lasted nine minutes and resulted in 46 separate injuries.

McSweeney, who refused to attend his sentencing hearing, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 38 years after admitting Ms Aleena’s murder and sexual assault.

Jordan McSweeney was found guilty at the Old Bailey of the murder of law graduate Zara Aleena Credit: Met Police/PA

He is now set to challenge this sentence as “manifestly excessive” at the Court of Appeal on Friday morning.

The Old Bailey previously heard that McSweeney had been released from prison on licence on June 17, just nine days before the murder.

In that time, his licence had been revoked after he failed to attend any meetings with probation workers.

Following Ms Aleena’s murder, Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell highlighted a catalogue of errors in the Probation Service’s handling of McSweeney which meant he was not treated as a high-risk offender when he should have been.

Describing McSweeney as a “career criminal” in and out of jail since the age of 16, Mr Russell said he “should have been considered a high-risk-of-serious-harm offender”, adding: “If he had, more urgent action would have been taken to recall him to prison after he missed his supervision appointments on release from custody.

“The Probation Service failed to do so and he was free to commit this most heinous crime on an innocent, young woman.”

Friday’s hearing before Lady Chief Justice Lady Carr, Mrs Justice McGowan and Mrs Justice Ellenbogen is due to begin after 10am.