Alice Gross missing: Chief suspect Arnis Zalkalns was accused in 2009 of 'drugging and molesting' a teenager

Zalkalns was arrested but the investigation was discontinued when the alleged victim declined to press charges

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Latvian man being hunted by police in connection with the disappearance of schoolgirl Alice Gross was accused of drugging and molesting another 14-year-old girl in London in 2009, it has been reported.

Arnis Zalkalns, who served seven years in a Latvian jail for bludgeoning and stabbing his wife Rudite Zalkalns to death, was arrested over the allegation of indecent assault but the investigation was discontinued when the alleged victim declined to press charges.

However, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his two children has provided details of the alleged incident to The Telegraph.

She claimed that the 41-year-old labourer, who is the prime suspect in what has become the biggest Metropolitan Police operation since the 7/7 bombings, had always denied the charge and said he had been attempting to help the girl because she was drunk.

Liga Rubezniece, 34, told the newspaper: “He told me about this when it happened. He said he saw her crawling across the street when he went over to help her. Speaking from her mother’s home in Liepaja, Latvia, she added: “He said he was worried about her being knocked over when she was crossing the road. It was a busy road somewhere in London.

“He picked her up and walked her to the side of the road. He says he gave her his mobile phone to ring her parents but instead she rang the police. She told the police officers she had been drugged and attacked by him.”

Rubezniece made it clear that she believed Zalkaln’s version of events and said she did not think he had anything to do with Alice’s disappearance on 28 August – but added that he should co-operate with police. She said that she last spoke to him on 29 August; Zalkalns went missing on 3 September.

“Just because he was on the same path 15 minutes after Alice doesn't mean that he did it. I hope that both Arnis and the girl are both somewhere safe and sound,” she said.

“He is not a monster and he has never hurt me in any way,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Met were said to have made contact with their counterparts in Latvia over the weekend to formally request full details of the murder conviction against Zalkalns.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We are maintaining a close and productive relationship with the Latvian authorities in relation to this investigation. We are not going to elaborate on the nature of information sharing with Latvian authorities.”

Police said on Thursday that it was their understanding there was no record in the UK of his murder conviction.

A reward of up to £20,000 is being offered for anyone who has information that leads detectives to find Alice.

Zalkalns is described as white, 5ft 10ins, of stocky build and with dark brown hair that he normally wears tied in a pony tail.

Police have said that he “potentially poses a risk to the public” and asked anyone who sees him not to approach him and to dial 999.