The man who found a fatally injured aspiring lawyer who was attacked in the street by a stranger is “devastated” and “will never be the same again”, his wife said on Tuesday.
A resident alerted police after finding her behind a small wall in a neighbour’s driveway. The man’s wife said: “I don’t know whether my husband will ever be the same again, he is totally devastated by what he saw on the other side of that wall.
“He found a woman who was covered in blood. She had terrible injuries.”
The wife said her husband went to check what was happening after spotting a man acting suspiciously.
“We saw a man stumbling on the other side of the road to us, we thought he was drunk,” she said.
“He was walking back and forward and from what we could see he was alone. At one stage he walked into the drive and we thought he was going to urinate because he was drunk. Then my husband said he kept looking at something over the wall — he ran out but the man had gone.
“We had no idea there was a woman on the other side of that wall. If we had of course we would have called the police earlier.”
Officers were on Tuesday continuing to question a 29-year-old man after he was arrested on Monday on suspicion of murder.
Scotland Yard said Ms Aleena, who worked at the Royal Courts of Justice, had suffered serious head injuries.
Her family and friends have left a series of moving messages at the crime scene. One said: “I love you to the moon and back. I am going to miss everything about you, your smile, the way you bit your bottom lip when you were thinking, our nights out… eating burgers on a step, laughing about anything and everything.”
Another said: “Beautiful Zara. Such a sweet soul who deserved so much more from life. You could talk for England.”
According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms Aleena studied law at the University of Westminster and had been working at the Royal Courts as an administrative officer since May.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, the senior officer responsible for policing in the area, said yesterday: “Zara, who lived locally, was walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill station when she was assaulted.
“It is now believed she was the victim of an attack by a stranger.
“We are keeping Zara’s family up to date with our progress and my heartfelt condolences are with them at this terrible time… I cannot imagine the pain they must be feeling.”
Anyone with information should call police on 0208 345 3715 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.