Radio Sandwell News

Murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross' body 'was weighted down'

2014-10-10 23:04:17

Alice Gross
© Provided by Press Association An inquest into the death of schoolgirl Alice Gross is set to open (PA/Metropolitan Police)

The body of murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross was found wrapped and weighted down in a shallow stretch of river, an inquest has heard.

Her grieving mother Rosalind Hodgkiss, 50, was at West London Coroner's Court today as the inquiry into the 14-year-old's death was opened and adjourned.

In a hearing that lasted only a few minutes, the court heard that Alice's body was found by London Fire Brigade divers in the River Brent in west London just over a month after she went missing.

Coroner's officer John Chadwick told the court: "On September 30, as a result of a search of the River Brent, the body of Alice Gross was found by London Fire Brigade divers.

"The deceased was found submerged, wrapped in a bag and had been weighted down. Alice was pronounced life extinct at 10.45pm."

The keen musician went missing from her home in Hanwell, west London, on August 28, sparking a huge search operation that was Scotland Yard's biggest since the aftermath of the July 7 bombings.

She was identified using dental records and a post-mortem examination proved inconclusive. Further tests are now being carried out to find out how she died.

Adjourning the hearing to January 29 next year, coroner Chinyere Inyama said: "Clearly there are other investigations ongoing, including the police inquiry."

Ms Hodgkiss, supported in court by police officers, sat quietly throughout the hearing, nodding only when Mr Inyama said he would sign whatever certificates the family may need.

She left shortly afterwards and was driven away in a grey Vauxhall.

Yesterday, Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey insisted that the investigation into Alice's murder is still live despite the prime suspect - convicted killer Arnis Zalkalns - having been found dead.

He also defended the amount of time that it took to find Alice and Zalkalns' bodies.

Officers from 17 other police forces were drafted in to help with the search for the pair, including underwater experts from five forces and victim detection dogs and handlers from four outside the Met.

Mr Mackey said: "This has been a huge search and absolutely what would have been success in that search would have been finding Alice alive.

"But being absolutely realistic, when you have search parameters of this size, it takes an awful long time.

"There is not a huge amount of experience across the country of doing this. When you talk to senior investigating officers, they start usually from a crime scene and a body, you start from a completely different place."

Alice's body was found on September 30 hidden in the bed of the River Brent while Zalkalns was found hanged in nearby Boston Manor Park on October 4.

Police were also criticised for apparent delays in identifying Zalkalns, who vanished on September 3 and was reported missing two days later, as a suspect.

He served seven years in prison in his native Latvia for murdering his wife Rudite but authorities here had no record of his conviction.

"It was not until mid-September that investigators realised he had been following Alice when she was last seen.


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