The family of Zara Aleena says she was “the joy, the light of our home” and fear they may never get closure after the law graduate was killed in east London.

Ms Aleena, 35, was attacked in Ilford on her walk home from a night out early on Sunday and left with serious head injuries.

She was found at about 2.45am on Cranbrook Road and died later that morning in hospital.

Her aunt says Ms Aleena was “the happiest she had ever been” after starting working at the Royal Courts of Justice five weeks before she was killed.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out for a silent vigil for Ms Aleena on Saturday afternoon to “walk her home”.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, has been charged with her murder, as well as attempted rape and robbery.

He appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday where he entered no pleas and was remanded in custody.

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Ms Aleena’s aunt, Farah Naz, said her “independent” and “big-hearted” niece “was the joy, the light of our home”.

She spoke of the family’s determination to “change something” in honour of the “extrovert”.

Ms Naz told reporters: “I don’t think there is going to be closure, this is just the beginning of the conversation we need to have.

“I want to reach out and do something important and act, because that’s what Zara was about – we have got to change something.

“I want to speak to the leaders of this country, I want to talk about the setting up of projects right now to prevent violence.”

Farah Naz, the maternal aunt of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena, during an interview to the media in east London. Ms Aleena was attacked as she walked home from a night out along Cranbrook Road in Ilford, towards Gants Hill station, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Picture date: Friday July 1, 2022.

Image: Farah Naz said Ms Aleena’s family were determined to ‘change something’ in honour of the ‘extrovert’

Ms Naz said her niece, known to family members as Zash or Zasherooni, was conscious of the dangers women faced, particularly after the recent murders of Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman, Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

But she had felt “safe” walking in her community where she was “known to everybody”.

“Zara was not a woman who was unaware that there were dangers in the world,” Ms Naz said.

“She did not imagine what happened to those women would happen to her.

“She didn’t know she was going to be on this list because in her mind she took those precautions.”

Ms Naz added: “This is about a young woman who lost everything, and about a society who lost someone who was giving, someone who was good.

“That she spent the last few minutes of her life looking at something so horrible torments us.

“She was not ignorant to the fact that women get hurt. This isn’t about making the streets safe, it’s about changing the mindset.”

McSweeney, of Church Elm Lane, Dagenham, east London, will next appear at the Old Bailey on September 30 for a plea hearing.