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Alice suspect former home searched

A second house being searched in connection with the disappearance of schoolgirl Alice Gross is a former home of prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns, the owner said today.

Radoslav Andric said he last saw Zalkalns at the rental property in Boston Road, Hanwell, west London two days before Alice went missing.

Mr Andric said Latvian builder Zalkalns moved out more than a year ago but had returned to see friends.

Landlord Mr Andric, 64, who lives in an annexe at the rear of the building, said he believed Zalkalns had come back because his bike was not working properly.

Scotland Yard confirmed that officers had today found a red Trek bicycle belonging to Zalkalns but would not say from where it had been recovered or in what circumstances.

Onlookers at the house said they saw police remove a large parcel wrapped in brown forensics paper this afternoon, with a police label that read "black mountain bike".

It is the second property officers have searched, not far from another in Ealing where Zalkalns has been living with his partner and their young child.

It is also in the same area where Alice is from.

She has not been seen since August 28 when she was spotted on CCTV by the Grand Union Canal in west London walking along a tow path.

Zalkalns was spotted on CCTV riding past the same place 15 minutes later on a mountain bike. He has not been seen since September 3.

Mr Andric, who is originally from the former Yugoslavia and owns a flooring company, said his property is split into seven bedsits, with tenants from eastern Europe living there.

He said Zalkalns' partner had been at the property for a year and a half before she left around 12 months ago.

Describing Zalkalns, he said: "In the beginning he was really very very nice, but then he completely changed.

"On one occasion I asked him to do some DIY work. He expected money and he bashed the table and said, 'I want more money now'. After that I kept my distance.

"His eyes were always red. Either it was drink or drugs or not sleeping, I don't know."

Mr Andric said he saw Zalkalns on the Monday before he went missing when he brought a broken blue-coloured bike to the house and to see friends who live there.

Zalkalns visited two younger men, aged around 20 and 23, who were drinking friends and who saw him as a "father-figure", Mr Andric said.

He said: "I saw them and told them they are not welcome in my house."

He added: "I know he was a horrible man, I know that he was a murderer.

"I was really scared to cross him, I didn't know anything else about him."

Mr Andric said he became concerned last year after Zalkalns' partner fell pregnant as he did not feel the house was a suitable place to have a child, so he asked her to leave.

He said: "I was relieved when he left because I was scared for her because of a baby there."

Police were posted outside the property today as officers went in and out of the white terraced house.

Police in blue forensics overalls could be seen entering and leaving the property, on the A3002 main road around 300m from the Boston Manor Underground station.

Behind the overgrown front garden curtains were pulled at the downstairs windows, while what appeared to be paper was stuck to the windows upstairs.

Neighbours said police officers had arrived at the property yesterday and turned away tenants who tried to get in to their home last night.

Mr Andric and his lodgers were finally allowed to return at around 7pm today when police left the property.

One neighbour said police, forensics officers and dog handlers spent much of yesterday at the house.

The man, who asked not to be named, said: "A lot of neighbours are really worried. You hear about bomb factories and things like that and then you see all these people turning up and you don't know what is going on.

"It is a bit strange. We all know about the girl being missing and then we find out - because I think the owner spoke to a neighbour - that it was about a tenant around nine months ago who was the Latvian guy."

The man said there was a high turnover of people moving in and out of the property, and that in recent weekends neighbours had been woken up by tenants from the property drinking and fighting at night.

He said: "On one occasion the owner comes out, has a chat with the tenants, and one of them pushes him over in the garden."

Lampposts less than 100m from the house feature posters appealing for information about the missing schoolgirl.

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