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 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