I have lost faith in our se­cu­rity, says mother of mur­dered girl

Lat­vian had killed in home­land but was free to strike again in Bri­tain

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Ben Farmer

THE mother of a school­girl who is be­lieved to have been killed by a con­victed mur­derer from Latvia has lost her faith in Bri­tain’s abil­ity to pro­tect its ci­ti­zens, she told an in­quest yes­ter­day.

Ros­alind Hodgkiss, the mother of Alice Gross, said she was stunned that Ar­nis Zal­ka­lns was able to travel to live in the UK un­de­tected af­ter be­ing con­victed of mur­der­ing his wife.

Alice, 14, was prob­a­bly sex­u­ally as­saulted by Zal­ka­lns be­fore she was bound and wrapped in plas­tic and weighed down by bi­cy­cle wheels and bricks at the bot­tom of a river, the in­quest heard. Ms Hodgkiss told the hear­ing that it was “im­pos­si­ble for us to con­vey the dev­as­ta­tion caused to the fam­ily by Alice’s death.”

The 14-year-old dis­ap­peared from her home in Eal­ing, west Lon­don, on Aug 28, 2014, and was found dead in the River Brent a month later.

Zal­ka­lns, a 41-year-old builder was found hanged in a park days later and re­mains the prime sus­pect. Po­lice have said they would have charged him with mur­der had he been alive. He ap­par­ently used sim­i­lar tech­niques to hide Alice’s body to those he had used to hide the body of his wife.

Ms Hodgkiss said: “There are a lot of unan­swered ques­tions and we will likely never get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened that day.

“We want to re­it­er­ate that the rea­son for th­ese ques­tions is so that we can es­tab­lish whether or not the sys­tems for mon­i­tor­ing for­eign of­fend­ers and cross-border shar­ing of in­for­ma­tion are ro­bust. We ap­pre­ci­ate that they may have changed sig­nif­i­cantly, but we re­main stunned that a for­eign na­tional con­victed for mur­der in his own country was not mon­i­tored, or not even known about in any way.

“This has de­stroyed much of our faith in our country’s abil­ity to pro­tect its ci­ti­zens.

“The Home Of­fice and the po­lice forces na­tion­wide should be do­ing ev­ery­thing to en­sure this should not be al­lowed to hap­pen again.”

Dr Fiona Wil­cox, the coroner, has ruled that the in­quest, be­ing held at the Roy- al Courts of Jus­tice in Lon­don, will ex­am­ine whether fail­ures by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment and po­lice contributed to her death.

The in­quest heard that in 1997 Zal­ka­lns had been sen­tenced to seven years in Latvia for killing his wife.

He moved to the UK in 2007 and at the time of Alice’s killing po­lice were un­aware of his back­ground.

Det Ch Insp Andy Chalmers told the court that Zal­ka­lns had been ar­rested be­fore, in 2009, just two years af­ter he en­tered the UK, for an al­leged in­de­cent as­sault on a 14-year-old girl in Brent­ford.

But the girl re­fused to give ev­i­dence and Zal­ka­lns was re­leased with­out charge. At the time, his con­vic­tion for mur­der was not un­cov­ered and po­lice were un­aware of his crime.

DCI Chalmers said: “He was not known to any of our ser­vices here at the time of Alice’s mur­der.”

The in­quest con­tin­ues.

Ar­nis Zal­ka­lns dumped the body of Alice Gross in a river

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