Three judges, in their ruling on Friday, criticised the sentencing judge for imposing what they deemed as an excessively high “uplift” to McSweeney’s minimum prison term. As a result, they opted to replace it with a reduced minimum term of 33 years.
McSweeney admitted to the heinous crimes of murder and sexual assault, yet he defiantly refused to attend his sentencing hearing last December. The 35-year-old law graduate Zara Aleena fell victim to McSweeney’s predatory actions as she walked home from a night out in east London on June 26, 2022.
The brutal assault on Cranbrook Road in Ilford unfolded over nine minutes, leaving Ms. Aleena with a staggering 46 separate injuries. McSweeney, a released prisoner on licence for just nine days before the murder, targeted at least five women in his disturbing history of stalking.
McSweeney’s barrister, George Carter-Stephenson KC, contended that the sentencing judge, Mrs. Justice Cheema-Grubb, had erred in factoring in what he deemed as “aggravating features” in the case.
This decision has reignited debates surrounding the adequacy of sentencing in cases of severe violence and raises questions about the broader implications for victims and their pursuit of justice.