Alice Gross inquest to open today

Alice Gross inquest to open today

The inquest into the death of schoolgirl Alice Gross will open and adjourn today.

A short hearing will take place at West London Coroner’s Court this morning to officially open the proceedings but the full inquest will not be heard until a much later date.

The inquiry could be the only chance to officially establish what happened to the 14-year-old schoolgirl, who was missing for more than a month before her body was found hidden in a riverbed in west London.

Yesterday, Scotland Yard Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey insisted that the police investigation into her murder is still “live”, with at least two weeks of searches to complete, but the prime suspect in the case is dead.

Convicted killer Arnis Zalkalns was found hanged in Boston Manor Park, west London, on October 4, near where Alice was last seen on August 28 as she walked back to her family home in Hanwell.

Mr Mackey told members of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee: “The searches go on. We are talking about something that is still live.”

The senior officer added: “Families and communities want answers. My estimate, talking to colleagues, is that there’s probably at least another two weeks of searching to do.”

A post-mortem examination carried out on Alice’s body did not reveal a cause of death and further tests are now being carried out to establish how she died.

Scotland Yard has come under fire for the length of time it took to find her despite the force staging the biggest search operation since the aftermath of the July 7 bombings.

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

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.

It was another two weeks before investigators realised he had been following Alice when she was last seen.

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