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Change of coroner in Alice Gross inquest after case file left on a train

The coroner who left a police file into murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross's death on a train will no longer oversee her inquest.

Chinyere Inyama, the senior west London coroner, lost the 30-page police file in November last year, a month after Alice's body was found in a canal in the capital.

Police tried to recover the file, which contained evidence against prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns, but concluded it had probably been ''destroyed as waste".

The inquest has been transferred to a different coroner, and a spokesman for the Office Of The Chief Coroner said: "The Chief Coroner HHJ Peter Thornton QC has received a request from the senior coroner for the West London Area Chinyere Inyama to make an order transferring the investigation and inquest into the death of Alice Gross to another coroner area.

"The Chief Coroner has agreed to this request and made a direction to this effect on 8 October. This transfer was made using his powers under section three of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

"Fiona Wilcox, senior coroner for the Inner West London coroner area, has been directed to take jurisdiction for the investigation and inquest."

In a statement, published by ITV News, the family said they are aware that the inquest into Alice's death has been transferred to Dr Wilcox, and they "very much look forward to working with her".

The statement said as far as they know the next pre-inquest review hearing will be held in Westminster Coroner's Court at 2.30pm on Wednesday October 14.

Alice disappeared last August from her home in Hanwell, west London, sparking Scotland Yard's biggest search operation since the July 7 London bombings.

The 14-year-old's body was found weighted down in the Grand Union Canal in Ealing, west London on September 30.

Days later Zalkalns, 41, was found hanged in Boston Manor Park, west London, and police later said the Latvian - who had previously served seven years for murdering his wife in his home country - would have been charged with Alice's murder if he had still been alive.

An inquest into Alice's death was opened and adjourned last October, but the coroner lost the vital document - given to him to help with preparations for the inquests into the deaths of Alice and Zalkalns - a month later.

Alice's mother and father, Ros Hodgkiss and Jose Gross, were furious at the loss and demanded to know why they were not told.

They said in a statement at the time: ''We have looked to the police and coroner to help us through our awful loss. Yet now we learn they - either independently or together - have withheld from us the loss of this terribly sensitive information about Alice.

''We are extremely concerned, bewildered and angry - and we have asked for a full written explanation as to what exactly happened and why we were not told.''

The Ministry of Justice launched an investigation into the file's loss and why it was ever taken from the coroner's office.


From Belfast Telegraph