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Tributes paid to law graduate murdered as she walked home

Zara Aleena was killed by a stranger as she walked home in the early hours of Sunday (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Zara Aleena was killed by a stranger as she walked home in the early hours of Sunday (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Tributes have been paid to a 35-year-old law graduate who was murdered on her way home from a night out.

Zara Aleena was attacked by a stranger as she walked along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London, towards Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

On Tuesday Ms Aleena’s friend Sophie told BBC News: “She was just a kind soul, the sweetest girl, she could never harm a fly.

“Always polite, always bubbly, the sweetest girl that you could ever meet really. So much going for her.”

Her friend Jamsin Hossein also told the broadcaster she was “shocked” to lose her “amazing” friend.

“She didn’t have a bad bone in her. She was kind, she was loving, she was – like all her friends and family said – a lifeline for her grandma and her mum,” she said.

“And she was just so innocent, so pure.”

The University of Westminster said Ms Aleena was a law graduate who last year gained a postgraduate diploma in legal practice.

A spokeswoman said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news that our former law school student and graduate, Zara Aleena, has lost her life in such a tragic way. Our thoughts are with Zara’s family and loved ones at this dreadful time.

“Zara was awarded the LLB with honours in 2011 and the postgraduate diploma in legal practice in 2021. She is remembered clearly and fondly by all who taught her. She was a warm, gentle and open young woman, popular with both staff and fellow students. She would often go out of her way to help others.

“We have pastoral support available for our students and colleagues affected by the tragic news.”

According to reports, Ms Aleena was working as an administrative officer at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Her profile on the career networking site LinkedIn said: “My excellent interpersonal skills mean that I like people and they like me. I have strong organisational skills. Additionally, I bring energy, enthusiasm and ambition to any job role that I am in.”

Another friend, Nadia, told The Times: “She was a very gentle soul. She was very helpful to everyone and her neighbours.”

Police said Ms Aleena suffered multiple injuries and it appeared no weapon had been used in the attack.

Figures from the Metropolitan Police show that 14 of the 44 victims of suspected homicides so far in 2022, not including Ms Aleena’a death, were women.

In 11 of these cases the suspect is a relative or friend of the victim, another died in a house fire, and the relationship between suspect and victim in the remaining two is not yet clear.

It is rare for a victim to be murdered in the street by a stranger – according to the Office for National Statistics in the year to the end of March 2021 in England and Wales 6% of female victims and 18% of males were killed by strangers.