Press Release | Statements

27 June 2024

Refuge responds to the findings of the inquest into Zara Aleena’s murder

Responding to the findings of the inquest into the murder of Zara Aleena, Jessica Eagelton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Research at Refuge, said:

“Refuge stands in solidarity with the family and loved ones of Zara Aleena two years on from her murder. The inquest jury yesterday found ‘failure across multiple agencies’ contributed to Zara’s death, with the police, prison and probation services failing to act in accordance with policies and procedures – to share intelligence, accurately assess risk of serious harm, and act and plan in response to the risk in a sufficient, timely and coordinated way.

Zara’s death, like all forms of violence against women and girls, was entirely preventable.

We have heard how Zara’s killer was incorrectly registered as a ‘medium risk’ offender by HM Prison and Probation Service, this despite him having had a long-patterned history of violence against women and girls, including 28 previous convictions for 69 separate offences dating back 17 years, and a history of violence towards ex-partners.

Had he been correctly registered as a ‘high risk’ offender, more urgent action would have been taken to recall him to prison before he was able to take Zara’s life. Zara’s killer made no attempt to follow the probation conditions set following his release from prison, missing probation appointments and being uncontactable and yet the probation service waited five days before initiating his recall to prison. The police were given powers to arrest him days before he murdered Zara, but the inquest found a lack of ‘professional curiosity and follow-ups’ impeded his arrest. It is heartbreaking to read these timelines and consider what could  have been: if the probation and prison service acted with the speed and urgency that they should have done, Zara would have got home safely.

The inquest also highlighted how underfunding and under-resourcing hindered the Probation Service’s ability to adequately monitor Zara’s killer. This is something Refuge is deeply concerned about given the ongoing use of the ‘End of Custody Supervised License Scheme’ in which offenders are being released up to 70 days early to ease prison overcrowding.

Clearly, there are serious failings in the Probation Service’s ability to ensure public safety and urgent action must be taken to ensure offenders are not a danger to women’s lives when released from prison. The Probation Service must be given the resources, funds and training to ensure offenders are monitored and properly risk assessed.

Refuge stands with Zara’s family in campaigning for a future without male violence, in sustaining Zara’s legacy and in remembrance of all the women whose lives are taken in this senseless and preventable way. We will remember them and together advance to abolish femicide.”


In a statement yesterday, Zara’s aunt, Farah Naz, said:

“Today is a difficult day for my family. It marks the two-year anniversary of the brutal murder of our precious Zara, coinciding with the conclusion of the inquest into her death and the jury’s final verdict.

We thank the coroner and the jury for their time and consideration.

We welcome the jury’s conclusions under the Coroner’s guidance. The inquest has highlighted numerous devastating and unnecessary failings and mistakes made within and by our under-resourced justice system.

Our questions have been answered by a rigorous, thorough, and excellent process.

While we take some comfort in the fact that Zara’s murder has prompted substantial, meaningful, and hopefully sustainable changes in probation, police, and local authority policies and practices, we remain devastated by our enormous loss.

Zara should be alive today. Her brutal murder could and should have been prevented.

It is clear from the evidence we have heard that there are significant issues of under-resourcing across the system.

Additionally, at numerous stages in this process, there were instances where responsibilities were not carried out effectively, professionally and within necessary timelines, initiative was not taken, and there were glaring gaps in knowledge among some officers in prison probation, community probation, and the police about their own roles.

We also learnt that some operational policies are not fit for purpose. We hope that lessons will be learned, improvements will be made, and discussions will be facilitated as a result of this inquest.

And we must hold on to the hope that this verdict will help protect the lives of women and girls from male violence.

We ask that there are clear and measurable audit trails of the changes made.

We ask that the Prevention of Future Deaths Report to be presented by the coroner in due course will be given the serious attention it demands and that it is acted upon by the Justice Secretary and other relevant ministers and given the appropriate and necessary resources.

We recognise the swift actions of the Metropolitan police in finding the killer and the judicial process which led to his sentencing, and now the care taken during this inquest. All involved have treated Zara’s memory with the utmost respect and care.

We thank Probation, Police and the Local Authority for aiding the investigative process.

Today brings both sorrow and a semblance of closure as we reflect on Zara´s life. While true justice for our precious Zara may never be fully realised, we remain committed to campaigning to end male violence against women and girls in her name.

We hope Zara’s legacy will be real change for women and girls. Please stand with us and help us to achieve this.”