Ilford stranger attack: Man arrested on suspicion of murder after Zara Aleena, 35, beaten to death

Police have named the victim of the fatal Cranbrook Road attack as 35-year-old Zara Aleena, who lived in Ilford.

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of murder after a woman was beaten to death in Ilford in a vicious stranger assault.

Scotland Yard said Zara Aleena, 35, was walking along Cranbrook Road towards Gants Hill Tube station at around 2.44am on Sunday when she was attacked.

Police believe the person who assaulted her was not known to her and did not use a weapon.

Zara was found by paramedics with serious head injuries, and despite being rushed to hospital died later that morning.

The Times reported that she was a newly-trained lawyer - who lived in Redbridge - who had recently started working at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Zara Aleena, 35, who was beaten to death in Cranbrook Road, Ilford. Credit: Met Police

Today (Monday, June 27), police arrested a man, 29, on suspicion of murder at an address in Ilford.

There is still a crime scene at the junction of Cranbrook Road and Beehive Lane, near to Valentines Mansion.

Ch Supt Stuart Bell, the senior officer responsible for policing in the East Area BCU which includes Ilford, said: “We are keeping Zara’s family up to date with our progress and my heartfelt condolences are with them at this terrible time.

“They are being supported by specialist officers – but I cannot imagine the pain they must be feeling.”

Cranbrook Road, Ilford, where Zara Aleena was attacked and killed by a stranger.

Ch Supt Bell explained: “It is now believed that she [Zara] was the victim of an attack by a stranger.

“Her family are aware of this and as the investigation progresses they will continue to be updated and supported.

“A special post mortem has been completed. Zara suffered multiple serious injuries that contributed to her death.

“There is no evidence at this time that weapons were used during the attack.

“A full forensic examination of the scene and the surrounding area, house to house enquiries and a focus on identifying all available CCTV has been taking place since yesterday and local people will continue to see a significant police presence over the coming days and weeks.”

A crime scene is still up in Ilford where 36-year-old Zara Aleena was attacked and killed.

Detectives are still appealing for witnesses and people in Ilford to come forward.

Specifically, officers are appealing for anyone who was in the Cranbrook Road area between 2am and 3am on Sunday morning to get in touch.

This includes anyone who drove through the area and may have dashcam footage, or anyone who saw anything suspicious in the wider Ilford area overnight.

Neighbour Nizam Ali said the random attack was worrying.

“I don’t know if she lived locally but it does concern you,” he said.

Another neighbour who did not wish to be identified added: “On Sunday afternoon I saw the police.

“I thought a car accident took place but I learnt there had been a murder.

“It’s definitely worrying. We have a security camera and I keep it on.”

Another local resident said: “It’s definitely worrying, it’s unfortunate.”

Of Ilford, he said: “I wouldn’t say it’s the safest area.

“Alcohol is a big thing, without wanting to stereotype anybody.

“It does worry you a bit in terms of over the last few years there is drug dealing going on - it has gone downhill.

“I wouldn’t feel safe at night walking around.”

While one man, who lives near the cordon, and gave his name as Tariq, said: “We were out until about midnight but we didn’t see or hear anything.

“We’ve lived here since 1986 and when it was a decent area - now all of a sudden you’ve got the dead man in the park, stabbing at the station and now this.

“A random attack - that’s very rare. You wouldn’t have thought that.”

Ch Supt Bell said that tackling violence against women and girls was “an absolute priority” for the Met.

“Our priorities are to ensure the safety of the local community and to engage locally with residents and people affected,” he said.

“We will be working closely with partners and locally elected representatives to do all we can to make people in this area feel safe and tackle offenders who harm people and cause alarm in our community.

“We know people are concerned and we are determined make our public spaces safer in this area.

Zara Aleena, 36, was attacked at the junction of Crankbrook Road and Beehive Lane.

“My genuine thanks go to everyone in the community for their patience and resilience. Our neighbourhood officers will be making themselves available over the coming days to speak to the community and people affected locally.

“Every resource is being dedicated to locating whoever is responsible and with every hour, the investigation is gathering pace.

“Tackling violence against women and girls is an absolute priority for the Met. Every day our officers are working with partners across the capital to improve safety in our public spaces.

“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. It’s our job to ensure that happens – but officers cannot be in all places at all times.

“I would urge our community, especially women, to report any suspicious or unwanted behaviour and seek help if you feel threatened.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m heartbroken by the murder of Zara Aleena who had her whole life ahead of her.

“My thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and the whole community who are devastated by her death.

“I am in regular contact with the police who have been working around the clock and a man is now in custody on suspicion of murder. There will continue to be a large police presence in the area over the coming days.

“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.”

Anyone with information or footage, or any witnesses, are asked to call the major incident room on 0208 345 3715.

The Met Police initially said the victim was 36.