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Murdered Alice Gross's funeral takes place

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Media captionIn a statement, Alice's family said: "Alice was so spirited, so present, so vital and so full of promise"

On the day of murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross's funeral, her family said they found it "impossible to understand" what had happened to the "spirited" 14-year-old.

The teenager went missing from her Hanwell home on 28 August. Her body was found hidden in the River Brent on 30 September.

The family paid tribute to her in a ceremony which was "full of music".

A funeral procession also passed through Hanwell before the service.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Alice Gross was last seen walking along the Grand Union Canal on 28 August

In a statement, Alice's family said: "Alice was so spirited, so present, so vital and so full of promise.

"We find it almost impossible to understand what has happened and that we have to say goodbye to her.

"We want Alice's funeral to focus on the joy of Alice's life and the joy of having known her."

Scotland Yard said the hunt for Alice was its biggest search operation since the July 7 bombings. The prime suspect was found hanged on 4 October.

'Love of nature'

In Hanwell, candles and flowers have been placed around the clock tower in tribute to the schoolgirl.

Traffic came to a standstill and locals came out to pay their respects as the cortege went past.

The teenager's coffin was decorated with patterns, which depicted a meadow scene and Alice's three cats, painted by her grandmother and a family friend because Alice loved nature.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Members of the local community gathered to pay tribute to Alice Gross
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The funeral cortege passed through Hanwell en route to the service
Image caption A floral tribute has been created in Hanwell, where Alice lived

The family said the funeral service was a humanist ceremony and featured videos of Alice playing and singing songs she wrote herself.

There were tributes from her teachers, parents and sister and the congregation sang "You are my Sunshine".

The family also thanked members of the public for their support.

A public memorial ceremony will be held for Alice on 2 November at Greenford Town Hall.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The Gross family released new images of Alice as a young girl
Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Alice's parents Rosalind Hodgkiss and Jose Gross and her sister Nina Gross paid tribute to her

A tribute page was also set up with money to be donated to the National Foundation for Youth Music in Alice's memory, as she was a keen musician.

The charity said it was "honoured and grateful" to be chosen by the Gross family.

Prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns' body was found in Boston Manor Park.

The Latvian national was reported missing from his Ealing home on 3 September.

It is believed Mr Zalkalns came to the UK in 2007, but authorities here are thought to have had no record of his murder conviction and seven-year prison sentence for bludgeoning and stabbing his wife.

A review of how the case was handled is being carried out by Scotland Yard.

Inquests into both deaths have been opened and adjourned, as investigations into the case continue.

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