Independent Serious Further Offence review of Jordan McSweeney


On 14 December 2022, Jordan McSweeney was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 38 years, having pleaded guilty to the murder and sexual assault of Ms Zara Aleena. These offences occurred as Ms Aleena walked home, alone, with McSweeney following her, before he subjected her to a sustained physical and sexual assault. Jordan McSweeney was subject to probation supervision when these offences occurred.

In July 2022, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice asked HM Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell to conduct an independent review into this case, as Jordan McSweeney was on probation when he is alleged to have committed these offences. The review was completed in January 2023.


Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “Jordan McSweeney should have been considered a high risk of serious harm offender. If he had, more urgent action would have been taken to recall him to prison, after he missed his supervision appointments on release from custody. The Probation Service failed to do so, and he was free to commit this most heinous crime on an innocent, young women. Our independent review brings into sharp focus the consequences of these missed opportunities and reveals a Probation Service, in London, under the mounting pressure of heavy workloads and high vacancy rates.

“McSweeney murdered Zara just days after being released from prison. During his sentence, he was considered a violent and threatening man – to other prisoners and to prison staff – and had carried weapons. Known to the criminal justice system, since 2005, McSweeney had been imprisoned many times before, and had displayed violent and racially aggravated behaviour. He also received a restraining order for an offence, against a woman, in 2021.

“All the evidence shows that McSweeney should have been assessed, on release from prison, as high risk of serious harm. Instead, he was incorrectly assessed as being of medium risk because each of the offences, his behaviours in prison, and his criminal history, had been reviewed in isolation. Probation staff involved were also experiencing unmanageable workloads made worse by high staff vacancy rates – something we have increasingly seen in our local inspections of services. Prison and probation services didn’t communicate effectively about McSweeney’s risks, leaving the Probation Service with an incomplete picture of someone who was likely to reoffend.

“Following his release from prison and successive appointments being missed, the Probation Service failed to take prompt action to recall him to custody. Once that decision had been made, there were also delays in signing the necessary paperwork to initiate the recall. Had this been done sooner, opportunities for the police to locate and arrest McSweeney would have been maximised.”


Report: Independent Serious Further Offence review of Jordan McSweeney