THE heartbroken family of Zara Aleena today paid tribute to the aspiring lawyer who was allegedly murdered by a stranger yards from her front door.
The law graduate, 35, is believed to have been punched to the ground in a terrifying attack in Ilford, East London, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Neighbours in Cranbrook Road called 999 after hearing screams from the street.
But despite the best efforts of paramedics and police, Ms Aleena couldn’t be saved.
In a moving tribute released today, her family said she was the heart of their community, adding: “She was a joy for all of us. She was our love in human form.”
They said: “She was authentic and refused to try and impress anyone but she impressed us. She was the rock of our family.
Read More UK News
“Zara was stoic and held it all together and never complained. She glued our community together.
“Zara was happy and at a point in her life when her joy was radiating and blossoming. She was ready to make a family of her own.
“Her sense of justice and fairness led her to a life of giving and caring for others. A carefree spirit, with the most caring heart.”
The family, who extended their sympathies to a number of women killed by strangers, went on to call on society to put an end to violence against women and girls.
They said: “Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger.
Most read in News
“We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, ten minutes from home.
“We all need to be talking about what happened to OUR ZARA, we all need to be talking about this tragedy.”
Zara’s close friend Lisa Hodgson said: “I am completely broken. My bestest friend (for the past 17 years) Zara Aleena was murdered by a complete stranger.
“I am shocked. I am angry. I feel sick to my stomach.
“We spent most weekends together. We were meant to be together this weekend but I had to cancel and arranged to meet next weekend.
She was a joy for all of us. She was our love in human form.
Family of Zara Aleena
“I wish I had met her this weekend. She got f***ing murdered walking home.”
Jordan McSweeney, 29, will appear at Thames Magistrates’ Court today charged with murder, attempted rape and robbery of Zara.
CCTV footage from 2.48am that night – around half-an-hour after Ms Aleena was fatally injured – shows a man walking quickly past a shop.
He then breaks into a run.
The same man was also captured at 2.05am. Ms Aleena walked past five minutes later.
The shopkeeper told the Daily Mail: “Police came to my shop and asked to see my CCTV footage.
“They showed me the poor young woman walking past my shop. And they showed me the footage of the murder suspect walking past the shop a few minutes earlier.”
Meanwhile, it’s understood other cameras along the street have captured Ms Aleena confronting a man close to a bus stop in Cranbrook Road at 2.13am.
In separate footage, she speaks to the man before quickly walking away. The man lights a cigarette before apparently following after her at a distance of around 10ft.
The man in the footage wears white trainers and a distinctive two-tone jacket.
Uni of Westminster graduate Ms Aleena was killed at 2.20am, less than ten minutes after she confronted the man in the footage.
Read More on The Sun
Four minutes before her death, a marked police car drove past as she walked along with the man behind her, CCTV shows.