WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
July 13 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
Search
Close this search box.

Inquest finds systemic failings linked to Zara Aleena’s murder

Inquest finds systemic failings linked to Zara Aleena’s murder

An Jury at East London Coroners Court found that multiple agencies failed in carrying out their duties properly, contributing to the death of 35-year-old law graduate, Zara Aleena’s, who was raped and murdered by Jordan McSweeney in June 2022.

Jordan McSweeney was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 33 years at the Old Bailey. McSweeney had been released from prison on licence on 17 June 2022. The Justice Gap previously reported of the failings in the Probation Service which wrongly  classified the perpetrator as ‘medium-risk’ , instead of as a ‘high-risk’ offender.

After his release, police failed to contact McSweeney, and probation delayed recalling him to prison. He missed his probation appointment, and his mother reported he had passed out drunk. Despite repeated failures to attend, his recall was initiated only on 22 June, with police authorised to arrest him on 24 June. McSweeney murdered Ms. Aleena on 26 June.

Ms. Aleena’s aunt, Farah Naz, condemned the failings as “a damning reflection of our state services meant to protect us and Zara.”

HM Prison and Probation Service apologised, citing “significant steps” taken to address the issues. Ms. Aleena died from blunt force head injuries and neck compression. Area coroner Nadia Persaud extended her condolences to the family and friends and noted a video montage of Ms. Aleena’s life was played in court.

Initially sentenced to a minimum of 38 years, McSweeney’s term was reduced after a successful appeal in November 2023. Coroner Persaud asked jurors to consider if the prison, probation services, or Metropolitan Police contributed to Ms. Aleena’s death.

Probation worker Austin Uwaifo stated that the probation office was unstaffed over the weekend but that he would have requested an expedited out-of-hours emergency recall if McSweeney had been classified as high risk.

The inquest heard that the police officer handling McSweeney’s recall admitted that initial inquiries into his whereabouts were prematurely closed, and more thorough checks should have been conducted.

Ms. Naz and the family expressed acceptance over the conclusion and deep sorrow, stating, “Knowing Zara’s death was preventable makes me very, very sad. She could have been here.”

Chief Probation Officer Kim Thornden-Edwards highlighted new mandatory training for risk assessments and new processes for swift offender recall. “We will consider the coroner’s findings carefully and respond in due course,” she said.

Farah Naz, told the inquest a “crumbling justice system” contributed to the death of her niece.

Related Posts