The Crown Prosecution Service has concluded that had Arnis Zalkalns been alive he would have been charged with the abduction and murder of 14 year old Alice Gross.
Alice Gross’s body was found in the River Brent on 30th September last year having been tied into bags.
The discovery took place during the second search of the river and the detective in charge of the inquiry says: ‘We really wish we’d found her earlier, we really wish we’d found her on the first search.’
Elaborate measures had been taken to keep her body submerged including the use of a bicycle wheel weighed down with bricks.
Zalkalns’ body was found in Boston Manor Park on 4th October.
Tim Thompson, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London said:
I have concluded that the evidence now available would have been sufficient to give rise to a realistic prospect of conviction for murder […] There is no eye-witness evidence. The scientific evidence does not link Arnis Zalkalns directly to Alice’s death. Nonetheless the evidence as a whole gives rise to a circumstantial case […] Of all the people the various strands of evidence might have implicated they in fact point towards Arnis Zalkalns: a person who has previously killed, and concealed the body of, a young woman.
DCI Andy Chalmers, said:
I am satisfied that the evidence points firmly to Zalkalns as being responsible for the abduction and murder of Alice. I believed it was important for the CPS to assess the evidence that the investigation team had found against him to reassure Alice’s family and the community, who were so affected by her disappearance.
The circumstantial case against Arnis Zalkalns
- Using CCTV, the detectives in the operation code-named Purple Wave, were able to prove Alice was walking along the Grand Union Tow Path on the afternboon of 28th August.
- The last known sighting of Alice on CCTV shows her walking north at 4.26 pm.
- The last connection between her phone and a cell mast was at 4.28 pm.
- Her phone was disconnected from the network at 5.11 pm.
- Arnis Zalkalns was also cycling north on the tow path on the same day and and at the same time.
- Arnis Zalkalns would have overtaken Alice on the tow path at about 4.10 pm.
- Operation Purple Wave CCTV evidence circumstantially linking Arnis Zalkalns with the victim on the day of her disappearence.
- The CCTV suggests he must have stopped for at least an hour and twenty minutes.
- When he reappeared on camera he looked as though he’d been in the water.
- He returned to the tow path that evening, the following morning, and again on the evening of 29th August.
- A cigarette butt found metres from where Alice was found had DNA matched to Arnis Zalkalns.
- DNA evidence strongly suggests Arnis Zalkalns had been in contact with Alice’s body.
- Alice’s sister is confident an iPhone cover concealed in Zalkalns’ garden is hers.
- CCTV evidence accounting for ZalKalns’ last movements before he was found dead in Boston Manor Park.
The scale of Operation Purple Wave
- The incident room took 1500 calls;
- The team spoke to 2000 witnesses;
5000 documents were analysed;
- officers searched 25 square miles of land and five miles of waterways and open water;
- 30 POLSA searches carried out on addresses linked to the investigation;
- on the busiest day of the search for Alice, a total of approximately 400 officers and staff were utilised;
- of these, 110 specialist search officers and 20 divers were operating;
- over 1000 properties were visited during house to house enquiries;
- 50 terabytes of video footage was gathered from over 500 cameras across Ealing, Isleworth, Acton, West Drayton and major London transport hubs.
The family of Alice Gross are to be represented at the future inquest by the human rights group Liberty.
Arnis Zalkalns was allowed to enter the UK in 2007, despite having served seven years for murdering his wife Rudite in Latvia.
Alice’s family have serious questions about ‘what the authorities knew or should have known about the man who is believed to have killed our daughter when he came to the UK.’
It remains impossible to describe the pain of losing Alice. Her death has left a hole in our lives that can never be filled. Every day is full of reminders of her life and her loss, and it is hard to imagine a future in which we can find peace or healing. Her brutal murder remains shocking, an appallingly senseless act that is still difficult to believe or understand.
We are confident in the conclusions of the police investigation. Despite the criticism that the police have received in the media, throughout this hideous time we have found they have remained at all times dedicated and sensitive and we would like to thank them for their support and professionalism.
We would like to thank the local community. Hanwell is a multi-cultural and multi-faith area; the search and grief for Alice united the whole community in an extraordinary display of sympathy and compassion, and this has continued. We are very grateful.
We have also been astonished by the continuing support of the public for Alice’s Youth Music Memorial Fund, which we hope will grow, and provide a sustainable legacy of music for disadvantaged children.
The fund has so far raised £17,000, and has been supported by so many individuals, businesses and events. We would like to thank all those who have donated or given up their time to organise collections or put on gigs in tribute to Alice’s memory, particularly those who have organised independent events through the Youth Music ‘give a gig’ scheme.
Our own plans in support of Alice’s fund are ongoing, and we hope to be able to give full details of these in due course. We are planning to hold a music event in the summer as a celebration of Alice’s life and passion for music. We also hope that in time an annual event can be launched to promote opportunities for young musicians, in tribute to Alice’s aspirations.
Although we now have certain information about how Alice died, we are still left with a number of serious unanswered questions about what the authorities knew or should have known about the man who is believed to have killed our daughter when he came to the UK.
Alice believed in the free movement of people and so do we. For her sake we are determined to ask these questions responsibly and sensitively. For that reason we have asked Liberty to help us and we look to the forthcoming inquest into Alice’s death to help us find answers to these questions.