Coroner issues legal ruling as Alice Gross inquest jury begins deliberations


A coroner has told a jury that evidence given at the inquest into the killing of schoolgirl Alice Gross - who is believed to have died at the hands of a foreign criminal - does not support conclusions that would "imply that any actions or inactions" of the Home Office or police "caused or contributed" to her death.

Dr Fiona Wilcox announced her legal ruling on the fifth day of the hearing into the circumstances surrounding the 14-year-old's death in 2014.

She told the jury of eight men and three women: "As a matter of law - and this is extremely important - I am instructing you that the evidence in this case does not support any final conclusions that would imply that any actions or inactions of the Home Office or police caused or contributed to Alice's death, and therefore no such findings may be reached."

Builder Arnis Zalkalns, who had served a prison sentence for murdering his wife in his native Latvia, is believed to have killed Alice in a sexually motivated attack.

The schoolgirl, described as "hugely talented" by the coroner, disappeared from her home in Hanwell, west London, on August 28 2014.

Her body was found on September 30 in the River Brent after Scotland Yard conducted its biggest search since the July 7 2005 London bombings.

Zalkalns was discovered hanged in a park on October 4 and police said the 41-year-old would have been charged with Alice's murder had he been alive.

Alice's father Jose Gross, sister Nina and mother Ros Hodgkiss were present in court on Friday as the coroner announced her ruling on the law at the inquest, which is being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

On the first day of the proceedings on Monday, Ms Hodgkiss read a prepared statement to the jury in which she said the family "remain stunned" that Zalkalns was "not monitored or even known about in any way" after he came to the UK.

Dr Wilcox told the jurors on Friday that they had a "considerable amount of work to do".

They were being asked to make "findings and determinations in relation to Alice's death", but there were "legal directions which you must follow".

After completing her summing up of the evidence, the coroner sent the jury out to begin its deliberations.