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Silent vigil to be held to ‘bring home’ Londoner Zara Aleena

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out for a silent vigil for Zara Aleena on Saturday afternoon to ‘walk her home’ (Ted Hennessey/PA)
Hundreds of people are expected to turn out for a silent vigil for Zara Aleena on Saturday afternoon to ‘walk her home’ (Ted Hennessey/PA)

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out for a silent vigil for Zara Aleena on Saturday afternoon to “walk her home”.

The 35-year-old law graduate was only minutes from her front door when she was attacked and killed while walking home along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London, on June 26.

On Saturday, nearly a week on from her death, a vigil has been organised by Ms Aleena’s family to try to bring comfort to her bereaved loved ones while highlighting the epidemic of male violence against women and girls.

Zara Aleena death
Zara Aleena, 35, was killed on Sunday in Ilford, an area she knew very well (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Speaking to media on Friday, Ms Aleena’s aunt said her niece had been in her own local community, in an area she knew well where she felt safe when she was attacked.

Farah Naz said the family was determined to try to “change something” and compel the political leaders of Britain to act “right now to prevent violence”.

She said: “(My niece) was not ignorant to the fact that women get hurt. This isn’t about making the streets safe, it’s about changing the mindset.”

Weeping, Ms Naz added: “We will never get through this, but it (the walk) will help us.”

Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London
Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London (Yui Mok/PA)

The vigil will take the form of a silent walk that traces the route Ms Aleena had been taking but never got to complete, “to bring her back where she belonged safely”.

Those attending the walk will meet at 1.30pm opposite Cranbrook Rise on Cranbrook Road in Ilford, commencing the walk at 2.17pm – the time in the morning on June 26 Ms Aleena was attacked.

Her family have requested attendees wear white and remain “silent and sombre” as “we walk Zara home in our hearts”.

In anticipation of the silent vigil for Ms Aleena, women have been sharing photos of their shoes to social media with the hashtag #SafelyHomeInOurShoes.

The 35-year-old Londoner had been returning home from a night out when she was dragged, kicked and stamped on, prosecutors said.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan McSweeney appearing by video link from HMP Thameside during a hearing at the Old Bailey, London
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan McSweeney, 29, appearing by video link from HMP Thameside during a hearing at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

A post-mortem examination found she had suffered multiple serious injuries.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, of Church Elm Lane, Dagenham, east London, appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday accused of murder, attempted rape and robbery.

He entered no pleas and was remanded in custody.