‘She Believed That A Woman Should Be Able To Walk Home’: Zara Aleena’s Family Pay Tribute To Murdered Lawyer

The 35-year-old was killed by a stranger on her way home on Sunday – with her best friend posting a heart-breaking tribute about the last text she sent her.

Zara Aleena

by Georgia Aspinall |

The family of Zara Aleena, a brilliant young lawyer who was killed in a street attack 10 minutes from her home in East London, have paid a moving tribute to her.

'She walked everywhere,' said the family in a statement. 'She put her party shoes in a bag and donned her trainers. She walked. Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home.'

The Met Police have arrested a man on suspicion of Zara Aleena’s murder after the 35-year-old was killed walking home through east London on Sunday morning. Investigators believe it was a ‘stranger attack’ with no evidence of weapons being used.

Zara's distraught family describing her as a 'joy to all of us'.

They said: 'She was always the bigger person in any situation. She was authentic and refused to try and impress anyone but she impressed us.

'She was the rock of our family. Zara was stoic and held it all together and never complained. She glued our community together.'

In a statement, chief superintendent Stuart Bell said that Zara died of fatal head injuries, a post-mortem examination found ‘multiple serious injuries’. Paramedics were called to the scene of the assault - Cranbrook Road, towards Gants Hill station in Ilford - at 02.45 BST on Sunday after Zara was found by members of the public. She had been walking home and was in her local area when she was attacked, dying later in hospital.

‘It is now believed that she was the victim of an opportunist stranger attack. Her family are aware of this and they will continue to be updated,’ Bell said. Detectives are now focused on identifying all available CCTV and encouraged anyone who may have been in the area (including those driving through) to contact the Met.

Friends of Zara have since posted heartfelt tributes to the law graduate - who had been working at the Royal Courts of Justice - with Lisa Hodgson sharing the emotional last text she received from her best friend. ‘Miss your beautiful face this weekend,’ Zara had said. ‘Can’t wait to see you next weekend.’

‘We spent most weekends together,’ Lisa said on Facebook. ‘I wish I had met her this weekend…I will never see her again! I will never hear her voice again…When will our streets be safe? Something needs to be done! Something must be done!’

Others close to Zara have described her as ‘soft and gentle’ with ‘never a bad word to say about anyone'. One friend, Sherit Nair, told the BBC that Zara was a ‘lifeline for her mother and grandmother’ as she did all of their shopping and arranged their medication.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was ‘heartbroken’ by Zara’s murder. ‘Understandably, women living in the area and across London will be feeling distressed and fearful after this awful attack and the death of another woman at the hands of a man,’ he said. Many women have now taken to social media to share their devastation.

‘Women should not have to change their behaviour and should be able to go about their business feeling safe any time of day or night and it is our job to ensure that happens,’ Ch Supt Bell said – then adding: ‘Officers cannot be in all places at all times. We urge the community, especially women, to report any suspicious or unwanted behaviour or to seek help if you feel threatened.’

Family tribute in full:

Zara, 35, a beloved human, child, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend to all, she was a joy to all of us. She was a carer for her mother, and her grandmother. Caring for others came so naturally to her. Zara was friendly, she was everybody's friend. She was everybody's daughter, everybody's niece, everybody's sister, everybody's cousin. She was pure of heart.

She was a joy to all of us, her sparkling eyes and the curly, jet-black hair. Her glorious laughter and her sweet, smiling voice. Her tiny frame embodied a passionate spirit and indomitable energy.

Zara was brought up by the whole of our family. She was our love in human form. At the age of five she said she was going to be a lawyer. Shrieking with joy when she spotted the birds as a child - she would giggle and make us laugh. She was always the bigger person in any situation. She was authentic and refused to try and impress anyone but she impressed us. She was the rock of our family. Zara was stoic and held it all together and never complained. She glued our community together.

'Nobody worked harder than Zara' is what we heard from all who knew her. 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 - supporting refugees fleeing violence, giving voice to those who had less power. She had that special habit of noticing others in need and always put their needs on her agenda. A carefree spirit, with the most caring heart.

Zara was happy and at a point in her life that she had worked hard for, she had completed her Legal Practice Course so that she could practise as a solicitor. She only recently started working for the Crown Prosecution Service, to complete her two-year work placement in order to become a fully qualified solicitor. She was fierce: she didn't just survive, she thrived.

She walked everywhere. She put her party shoes in a bag and donned her trainers. She walked. Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home. Now, her dreams of a family are shattered, her future brutally taken.

Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger. We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, 10 minutes from home.

We all need to be talking about what happened to OUR ZARA, we all need to be talking about this tragedy.

These last few days have been shocking and unimaginable.

In a savage, sickening, act she was murdered by a stranger. She's not the only woman who has lost her life like this. In the moment of this tragedy, we extend our deepest sympathy and love to the families of Bibaa Henry; Nicole Smallman; Sarah Everard; Sabina Nessa; Ashling Murphy and many more women.

We must PREVENT and STOP violence against women and girls.

Our loss is irreparable and the void feels insurmountable but the warmth and kindness that our community has shown is testament to the power of Zara's spirit. Her life has been stolen from us. She has been stolen from us all.

REST IN POWER ZARA NATASHA ALEENA.

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