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Hundreds gather at vigil for Zara Aleena who was killed as she walked home from night out

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Undated family handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Zara Aleena, detectives said they believed she was "attacked by a stranger" while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday. Issue date: Monday June 27, 2022.

Undated family handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Zara Aleena, detectives said they believed she was "attacked by a stranger" while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday. Issue date: Monday June 27, 2022.

Floral tributes left at the scene on Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London, where Zara Aleena, 35, was murdered on in the early hours of Sunday.

Floral tributes left at the scene on Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London, where Zara Aleena, 35, was murdered on in the early hours of Sunday.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan McSweeney appearing by video link from HMP Thameside during a hearing at the Old Bailey, London, where he is accused of murdering law graduate Zara Aleena. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan McSweeney appearing by video link from HMP Thameside during a hearing at the Old Bailey, London, where he is accused of murdering law graduate Zara Aleena. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

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Undated family handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Zara Aleena, detectives said they believed she was "attacked by a stranger" while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday. Issue date: Monday June 27, 2022.

Hundreds of people have gathered at a vigil dedicated to Zara Aleena, who was killed as she walked home from a night-out.

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

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

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Undated family handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Zara Aleena, detectives said they believed she was "attacked by a stranger" while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday. Issue date: Monday June 27, 2022.

Undated family handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Zara Aleena, detectives said they believed she was "attacked by a stranger" while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday. Issue date: Monday June 27, 2022.

Undated family handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Zara Aleena, detectives said they believed she was "attacked by a stranger" while walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday. Issue date: Monday June 27, 2022.

Many of those on Cranbrook Road have donned white clothing while mourners have left dozens of bouquets of flowers and cards in tribute to Ms Aleena.

Roads have been closed in the area to allow the crowd to walk the 10-minute journey from the scene of her attack to her home.

Members of Ms Aleena’s family led the crowd as it began tracing the walk home she would have taken.

Many held flowers and pictures of Ms Aleena and wore T-shirts bearing her image.

Marai Larasi, a member of campaign group Million Women Rise, said: “We’re here to support the family, we’re here to bring her home in spirit, we’re here to honour her life, and we’re here with absolute exhaustion because we’re tired of vigils, we’re tired of crying and we’re tired of having to bury women of all ages and stages in life.”

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.”

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Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

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

The vigil is taking 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 vigil met 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 Londoner had been returning home from a night-out when she was dragged, kicked and stamped on, prosecutors said.

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Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan McSweeney appearing by video link from HMP Thameside during a hearing at the Old Bailey, London, where he is accused of murdering law graduate Zara Aleena. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan McSweeney appearing by video link from HMP Thameside during a hearing at the Old Bailey, London, where he is accused of murdering law graduate Zara Aleena. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan McSweeney appearing by video link from HMP Thameside during a hearing at the Old Bailey, London, where he is accused of murdering law graduate Zara Aleena. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

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.


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