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Inquest hearing hears of Alice Gross killer's previous convictions

A court heard the man suspected of murdering Hanwell schoolgirl Alice Gross was allowed into the UK despite a series of criminal convictions

Arnis Zalkans

The suspected killer of Hanwell schoolgirl Alice Gross was allowed into the UK despite a series of previous convictions, a pre-inquest hearing in London heard on Friday.

Builder Arnis Zalkalns, 41, had already served seven years in prison for bludgeoning and stabbing his wife Rudite to death in Latvia, when he entered the UK in 2007, the High Court heard.

He had been convicted for possession of a firearm and sexual assault and was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of sexually assaulting 14-year-old girl just two miles away from where Alice was killed.

But the case was dropped after the alleged victim refused to make a statement.

After spotting the schoolgirl on the Grand Union Canal towpath on August 28 last year as he cycled behind her, it is claimed that Zalkalns carried out the killing and then went to a shop to buy beer.

Police revealed that Alice’s body had been tied in a fetal position, wrapped in a bin bag and weighed down with a bicycle wheel with bricks tied to it.

There were no obvious signs of injury on her body but detectives revealed that her death was likely to have been the result of a larger body lying on top her and stopping her from breathing.

Zalkalns is believed to have returned several times over the following day to ensure the body remained undiscovered.

He was found hanged in Boston Manor Park in October 2014 just four days after Alice was found in the river and he would have been charged with murder if he had lived, police said.

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox told the packed hearing last week: “We are not taking about what happened in Latvia, we are talking about how he came to this country and his behaviour when he got here.

“We have to deal with the main matters of issue in this case.”

But she added the inquest will hear evidence about his background, including the previous convictions, the past 2009 arrest and whether the correct checks were carried out before allowing him to enter the country.

The coroner will also call on Zalkalns’s girlfriend Katerina Laiblova to give evidence as to his behaviour the last time she saw him.

A post mortem, which revealed Alice died from constant compression of the chest and asphyxiation, recorded no evidence of sexual assault – but officers in the case believe this is the most likely motive for the attack.

Alice Gross

Senior west London coroner Chinyere Inyama came under fire from Alice’s family after it was revealed he left the original 30-page file containing sensitive information on the police inquiry on a train in November last year.

Scotland Yard has never recovered the lost file and believe it has been destroyed as waste.

On Mr Inyama’s request, the inquest was transferred to Dr Wilcox and the Ministry of Justice launched an investigation as to why the coroner defied police advice to keep the documents in his office.

A jury will be present during next year’s inquest, which is due to go ahead from June 27 for two weeks.

A further pre inquest review hearing will be held on Friday April 8 2016.

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