Zara Aleena murder: Initial inquiries into whereabouts of killer Jordan McSweeney 'closed prematurely', inquest told

A police officer who actioned the recall to jail for Zara Aleena's murderer prior to her death said initial inquiries into his whereabouts closed prematurely and more checks should have been carried out, an inquest has heard.

Jordan McSweeney was freed from prison nine days before he killed the 35-year-old law graduate as she walked home from a night out in Ilford, east London, early on 26 June 2022.

After his release, McSweeney then breached the conditions of his licence and his recall was started on 22 June.

The recall report was signed two days later on 24 June and police were given powers to arrest him at 4.10pm the same day, the court heard. Two days later, McSweeney killed Ms Aleena.

Ian Batten, an operations sergeant for the Metropolitan Police, told East London Coroner's Court on Thursday that he was initially responsible for coordinating police efforts to locate McSweeney after clocking on for his shift at 10pm on 24 June and did not foresee he was a risk to the public.

He told the jury he created a Computer Aided Dispatch (Cad) which generated an instruction for police to attend McSweeney's mother's home address to try and locate him, the jury heard.

The Cad was closed before the end of his shift after it was logged that McSweeney was not at the address and that his mother answered the door to police and told them her son was "not allowed there and she had not seen him for ages".

Ps Batten told the court he did not realise it had closed but it should have been kept open for at least two more visits to the property during various times of the day.

It was later revealed that McSweeney had been at his mother's address after his release from prison, but officers did not press his mother on where her son might be, assuming she had no further knowledge.

'Someone has been murdered'

Also in court, fairground owner John Parnham said he had known McSweeney years before and that he returned to work at the fairground around 21 June 2022.

He described a car journey the two of them had shared on the day Ms Aleena was killed, during which Mr Parnham remarked that there had been a bad traffic accident after seeing a police presence on the road.

"Jordan said to me: 'No, someone has been murdered'," Mr Parnham said, adding that McSweeney explained he could tell by the colour of the cordon tape.

The fairground owner said he "immediately recognised" McSweeney after police showed him an image on 27 June 2022, and directed them to the caravan where he was sleeping.

McSweeney was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 38 years at the Old Bailey in December 2022 after admitting Ms Aleena's murder and sexual assault.

In November 2023, he won a Court of Appeal bid to reduce the minimum term of his life sentence.

The inquest continues on Monday.