'Murdered' aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena, 35, was scared of using taxis because she felt it was safer to walk, friends say | The Sun

A LAW graduate killed minutes from her home refused to use taxis as she felt it was safer to walk, a friend has claimed.

Zara Aleena, 35, was walking home in Ilford, East London, after a night out when she was allegedly dragged into a driveway and beaten to death.

Louise De’Souza, who has known the aspiring lawyer since childhood, claimed Zara felt safer walking back at night than jumping in a cab.

She told the Mirror: "Unless someone was sharing or she knew the driver, she wouldn’t get in. I said, ‘Don’t walk late at night’.

"She said she was safer because the street lights were on.”

Zara's death has sparked outrage following the stranger murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard in London as they walked home.

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Hundreds gathered for a vigil yesterday to highlight the ongoing plague of male violence against women.

Supporters walked the ten minute route from where she was attacked to her home "to bring her back where she belonged safely".

Her aunt Farah Naz revealed the family were determined to try to "change something" and convince the political leaders of Britain to act "right now to prevent violence".

She added: "[My niece] was not ignorant to the fact that women get hurt.

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"This isn't about making the streets safe, it's about changing the mindset."

Zara's family also paid tribute to her in a heartbreaking statement following her death.

They also revealed she had wanted to be a lawyer from the age of five and that she "put her party shoes in her bag" and "walked everywhere" because "she believed that a woman should be able to walk home".

Her family added: "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 discovered with serious head injuries and partially clothed after the horror on Sunday.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, appeared at the Old Bailey yesterday charged with murder, attempted rape and robbery.

The court was told emergency crews were scrambled to Cranbrook Road after Zara's body was discovered.

Her screams woke up nearby residents, who called 999, it was said.

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Zara was allegedly "dragged" into the driveway and "kicked and stamped on" repeatedly, it is said.

McSweeney was remanded in custody to next appear at the Old Bailey on September 30 for a plea hearing.

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