A "pugnacious and deeply violent" Dagenham man has been sentenced to life for the murder and sexual assault of law graduate Zara Aleena in an attack as she walked home in Ilford.

Jordan McSweeney was ordered to spend at least 38 years in prison at the Old Bailey today (Wednesday, December 14) after he pleaded guilty last month.

He refused to come into court from the cells to be sentenced.

Read the full live blog detailing Jordan McSweeney's sentencing at the Old Bailey here.

Zara was attacked by McSweeney, 29, of Church Elm Lane, as she walked along Cranbrook Road towards Gants Hill station in the early hours of Sunday, June 26.

She was found with multiple head injuries and was taken to hospital where she died later that morning.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said McSweeney has "expressed no remorse" and has made "no expression of sorrow for the impact on anyone else" of his killing.

The judge said he "bears full responsibility for his actions" as he was "wholly aware of what he was doing".

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She does not believe the mental health issues McSweeney "undoubtedly has" reduce his culpability over the attack.

The judge called him a "pugnacious and deeply violent man with a propensity for violence", adding that his attack was "a steep and sudden escalation of violence which had simmered in his life for many years".

She said: "The defendant had the advantage of strength and surprise. In everything else, she was better than him."

The judge added that the defendant's decision not to come to court to be sentenced showed that he has "no spine whatsoever".

Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow KC told the court that McSweeney had been ejected from an Ilford Wetherspoons for making "persistent advances" to a female member of staff on the night of the attack.

He said the defendant "roamed the streets looking for a woman to attack and to sexually assault".

The court was shown CCTV of McSweeney pursuing at least two other women before footage of him dragging Zara into a driveway later that night was also played.

Mr Glasgow also set out a series of incidents of domestic abuse, threats against police officers and an attempt to assault a 12-year-old girl.

READ MORE: 'A joy to us all': Zara Aleena's family pay tribute after 'sickening' death

In his mitigation, defence barrister George Carter-Stephenson KC outlined McSweeney's "far-from-ideal" childhood where domestic violence was "the norm".

His mother was a drug addict and his father was largely absent, he told the court.

He was taken into care, expelled from school and began drug dealing and "bare knuckle fighting for money", the court heard.

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Mr Carter-Stephenson said that McSweeney suffers from ADHD, mixed depression and anxiety disorder, substance misuse and a personality disorder, all of which "cause him problems".

He said McSweeney "has no real memory" of events due to the amount of alcohol and illicit substances he had consumed.

Zara's aunt, Farah Naz, and her grandmother, Rashda Parveen, also spoke in court.

Farah said: "Everything she was, everything she worked so hard for, every dream was destroyed by someone she did not even know, someone else’s sense of entitlement.

"She was just walking home."