Zara Alena’s family are considering legal action over the devastating botched murder of her by a recently released inmate, the Guardian has been told.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, who murdered an aspiring lawyer in June 2022, was supposed to be assessed as a high-risk offender, but was classified as moderate risk when he was partially released. a sentence

Elina, 35, was jailed for life for her manslaughter after he kicked and beat her as she walked home on an evening out near her home in Ilford, east London.

Jordan McSweeney. Photo: Metropolitan Police Complex

McSweeney killed Elina on June 17, nine days after he was released from prison on licence. Two days before the murder, he was recalled to prison for violating his release conditions — the first violation occurred a day after he was released.

A report by the Probation Inspectorate found McSweeney had a long history of abuse and racially motivated incidents, Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said.

The report found staff had a heavy caseload, exacerbated by large-scale vacancies.

Alina’s aunt Farah Naz, who has been acting as the family’s spokesperson since the murder, told the Guardian the family still has questions and will fight to answer them.

Naz said that if the probation service had done the right thing, Elina would still be alive. “It wasn’t going to happen,” she said. “It could have been prevented.”

Farah Naaz
Farah Naz: ‘Fail after failure.’ Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

She said the family will file a lawsuit, adding that if the authorities are not honest and open with them first, they will use the search to get the answers they need.

Naz said that the failed system emboldened criminals, and cited McSweeney as an example: “Fail after failure after failure. He was not afraid of the consequences.

“It was a busy road [where Zara was attacked and killed]. A main road. He spent a lot of time attacking her there. He wasn’t afraid of attacking her, he wasn’t afraid of prison.

“He knew how to play the system, there was no inhibition.”

Naz said the report found major problems in prison and probation services, echoing sentiments expressed by MPs in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday. It was the responsibility of those who operate and oversee the service, speaking of a lack of resources, she said. “You have to be loud and say: ‘We’re not getting enough money and there will be mistakes,'” she said. “We have to tell the Deputy Prime Minister [Dominic Raab]: ‘What are you going to do about it?’

It is understood that, following the blistering inspectorate report, Raab, who is also justice secretary, is considering meeting the family.

In his report, Russell said the probation staff involved were experiencing unsustainable workloads, made worse by high staff vacancy rates – “something we have increasingly seen in our local inspections of services”.

In the Commons, Justice Minister Damian Hinds said he was “deeply sorry” for the mistakes and claimed the government was hiring more staff. Hinds said: “The Probation Service needs more staff and that’s why we’ve invested heavily in extra funding of more than £155m a year to hire thousands of staff to provide stronger supervision of offenders, reduce caseloads, and keep the public safe. .”

Steve Reid, the shadow justice secretary, was on the probation service “freefall” and said: “McSweeney’s repeated failure to attend probation appointments should have prompted swift action. He was recalled to prison two days before the attack on Zara, but was never arrested and brought in. .If he had, Zara would still be alive.

Reid added: “The fact is, these are all problems that the government knew about but failed to act on. The government has to take responsibility for that.”

Naz said the family is still reeling from Elina’s brutal murder. “It’s been a struggle for us. It’s only been seven months. Our lives have been affected forever. We have this man who came into our lives and destroyed us.


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