Inquest reveals ‘delays in paperwork’ to recall Zara Aleena’s killer

Jordan McSweeney killed the 35-year-old law graduate on 26 June 2022.

Inquest reveals ‘delays in paperwork’ to recall Zara Aleena’s killer

Jordan McSweeney (L) Zara Aleena.

Pramod Thomas

DOCUMENTATION delays postponed the recall of Zara Aleena’s murderer to prison, just days before he fatally attacked her, an inquest disclosed.

Jordan McSweeney, who fatally assaulted the 35-year-old law graduate in June 2022, had breached the terms of his release from prison. The paperwork for his recall was initiated on 22 June, two days before he killed Aleena, and was signed on 24 June.

At a hearing in east London Coroner’s Court, it was revealed that there were delays in sending the necessary paperwork to initiate McSweeney’s recall to prison.

Chief probation officer Kim Thornden-Edwards acknowledged these delays and admitted there were also delays in assigning McSweeney’s case to a probation officer.

McSweeney, known to police as a serial offender, had a history of 28 convictions for 69 offenses, including burglary and assault. Despite his criminal history, he was rated as a medium risk for serious re-offending, even after being arrested for murder, a fact deemed peculiar by the court.

During the inquest, it was highlighted that McSweeney should have been considered a high-risk offender as early as 2021, according to evidence provided by the Probation Service.

Rajeev Thacker, representing Aleena’s family, also highlighted delays in initiating McSweeney’s recall paperwork

The court heard testimony from Annie Rudge, a probation service officer, who stated she had no direct contact with McSweeney prior to his release from prison in 2020.

The purpose of the inquest, as outlined by area coroner Nadia Persaud, is to scrutinise the circumstances surrounding Aleena’s death and determine whether any actions or oversights by state bodies contributed to her demise.

Farah Naz, Aleena’s aunt, expressed the family’s anguish, stating their belief that the justice system had failed to prevent Zara’s death.

McSweeney was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 38 years in December 2022 after pleading guilty to Aleena’s murder and sexual assault. However, in November 2023, he succeeded in reducing the minimum term of his life sentence through a Court of Appeal bid.

The inquest into Aleena’s tragic death continues.