London

Alice Gross: Evidence shows 'police did not contribute to death'

Alice Gross Image copyright PA
Image caption Alice Gross, from Hanwell, in west London, disappeared on 28 August 2014

The death of a girl suspected of being killed by a convicted murderer, was not contributed to by the actions of police, an inquest has heard.

Latvian builder Arnis Zalkalns is thought to have killed Alice Gross, 14, in a sexually motivated attack in 2014.

After she died, it emerged that Zalkalns had been found guilty of murdering his wife in Latvia, in 1998.

The Royal Courts of Justice earlier heard her family was stunned he was not being monitored by UK authorities.

The jury was set to look at whether failures by the government and the police had contributed to her death.

'Unlawful killing?'

But, coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox told the hearing: "As a matter of law - and this is extremely important - I am instructing you that the evidence in this case does not support any final conclusions that would imply that any actions or inactions of the Home Office or police caused or contributed to Alice's death, and therefore no such findings may be reached."

Zalkalns first came to the UK in 2007. It later emerged that he was held in 2009 on suspicion of indecent assault, but faced no further action.

Dr Wilcox instructed the jury to look at whether Zalkalns was responsible for Alice's death and if so, was this "unlawful killing by either murder or unlawful and dangerous act manslaughter".

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Arnis Zalkalns was convicted for murdering his wife in 1998

What the jury must also decide:

  • If Zalkalns had been convicted of murder in Latvia in 1998 and whether he was "recognised as having a murder conviction on entry to the UK in 2007" and in following entries and exits into the UK
  • If, from 4 November 2011, there was a "universal system in place at the UK border to check persons leaving and entering the UK against a 'watch list'" and if he was ever on this list
  • If there was a watch list, did the Latvian authorities ever place him on it
  • Would the list have "afforded the opportunity to detain him and potentially prevent his entry into the UK or removal from it"
  • Whether in 2009 there was a system to check for foreign convictions for those arrested by the police
  • Was a foreign conviction check for Zalkalns carried out on his arrest in 2009
  • If such a check had been carried out, would it have detected his Latvian convictions
  • And if Zalkalns "came to the attention of the UK authorities between 2009 and Alice's death in 2014"

The schoolgirl, described as "hugely talented" by the coroner, disappeared from her home in Hanwell, west London, on August 28 2014.

Her body was found on 30 September in the River Brent after the Met conducted its biggest search since the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

Zalkalns was discovered hanged in a park on 4 October and police said the 41-year-old would have been charged with Alice's murder had he survived.

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