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Murdered law student Zara Aleena's devastated aunt begs for law change after killer Jordan McSweeney's jail term slashed | The Sun

THE AUNT of murdered law student Zara Aleena is begging for a law change after her killer won a bid to slash his sentence.

Jordan McSweeney had been released from a prison sentence just days before he pounced on Zara Aleena, 35, as she walked home.

The 29-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum of 38 years for the brutal murder in June 2022.

However he launched a bid to reduce the terms of his minimum sentence, which was yesterday granted at the Court of Appeal.

Now Farah Naz has said the reduction in McSweeney's minimum term sends out a "disheartening" message to women that their "suffering will not be accounted for".

She told BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning: "This is a man who didn't show for his sentencing, who didn't show for previous legal proceedings.



Family slam 'repugnant man' who killed law grad as he WINS bid to slash jail term


Family of Zara Aleena are furious at her killer’s bid to have sentence cut

"He spat in the face of the law, gets the law to stand up for him and he's able to exercise his right – surely somebody who has such a disdain for law should not be given that right of appeal.

"We need to change this law. I am extremely angry."

Ms Naz said that she was beginning to wonder if her family "can trust the judicial system", as the law "does not really take into account the victim's journey".

"At no point did any of our statements have an impact on the sentencing or on the appeal," she added.

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At a hearing at the Court of Appeal in London last month, McSweeney made a bid to reduce the minimum term of his sentence, appearing for the start of proceedings via videolink from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire.

In a ruling on Friday, three judges at the appeal court reduced McSweeney's sentence to life with a minimum term of 33 years, finding the original sentence was "manifestly excessive".

Sentencing McSweeney last year, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said a suggestion Ms Aleena had remained unconscious during the nine-minute attack was speculation and found McSweeney took Ms Aleena's mobile phone to stop her calling for help.

But during a short hearing on Friday, which McSweeney attended via videolink from prison, the Lady Chief Justice Lady Carr said: "Having correctly found that Ms Aleena must have been rendered unconscious at an early stage in the attack, the judge had lacked a sufficient evidential basis on which to be sure that there had been additional mental or physical suffering such as to justify an increase in the 30-year starting point."

In a 12-page judgment also published on Friday, Lady Carr, sitting with Mrs Justice McGowan and Mrs Justice Ellenbogen, said the "sexual nature" of the attack had already doubled the starting point of the sentence from 15 to 30 years.

She later said the conclusion that McSweeney took Ms Aleena's phone to stop her calling for help was "not justified" and should not have increased his sentence.

The senior judge also noted the minimum term only determines when an offender becomes eligible to be considered for release by the Parole Board, and they "will not necessarily be released at the end of that term, or at any time after that".

Ms Naz said she understood that the ruling appeared to "align with an established legal sentencing framework", but criticised the overruling of the sentencing judge by review judges.

She added that the appeal process had stolen "time for recovery" from her family.

At the hearing of McSweeney's appeal last month, his barrister said it was accepted there was a sexual motive to the crime, but argued the murder itself was not premeditated, describing it as an "opportunistic act".

"He planned to look for a sexual encounter, with or without consent," George Carter-Stephenson KC added.

However, Oliver Glasgow KC, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the suggestion McSweeney had not intended to kill Ms Aleena was "unsustainable" and that he had spent two hours stalking several women before turning his attention to the trainee solicitor.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: "Jordan McSweeney committed a despicable crime for which the only punishment should be life behind bars.

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"This is exactly why we're pushing ahead with important reforms to keep offenders like him locked up for good. A whole life order should be handed down to murderers with sexual conduct, unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.

"This will mean for the most depraved killers life means life with no prospect of release."

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