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Site searched in missing Alice hunt

Detectives trying to trace missing schoolgirl Alice Gross have moved their search to a National Trust-owned estate near to where she was last seen more than a month ago.

Scotland Yard officers are combing Osterley Park, in west London, for the first time, which is around two miles from the location of the 14-year-old's last sighting near the Grand Union Canal.

It has been exactly a month since Alice failed to return home to her family, sparking the Metropolitan Police's biggest search operation since the 7/7 bombings.

The National Trust describes Osterley Park as a Georgian country house and estate in London.

More than 300 officers from over a dozen police forces across the country are involved in the increasingly desperate hunt, which has even called on the assistance of the RAF who helped to identify possible new search sites.

And a stretch of the Grand Union Canal, which Alice walked alongside before she disappeared, was sifted through in the hope to recover her possessions, including her iPhone, but officers again drew a blank.

Yellow ribbons adorn homes and railings in west London where the community have been praised by officers for their help in raising the profile of the missing teenager.

Yesterday, hundreds of the ribbons were handed to runners at the Ealing Half Marathon in a bid to spread the word.

Alice was last captured on CCTV walking along the towpath next to the Grand Union Canal as it passes under Trumpers Way at 4.26pm on August 28 but has not been seen since.

Detectives are scouring through hours of "crucial" footage from hundreds of CCTV cameras for clues in piecing together her last movements, while officers continue to comb through scrubland running alongside the canal.

Convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns, who was filmed cycling the same route behind the teenager, remains the prime suspect in her disappearance.

Police are urgently working with the authorities in his native Latvia to track down the labourer who was reported missing within days of Alice's disappearance.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the RAF was helping police in the search for Alice.

The search has also included a reconstruction of Alice's last known movements which attracted 150 phone calls from members of the public with possible information.

But an area of disturbed earth at Elthorne Park in west London, which runs beside the canal towpath and was subject to a thorough investigation, was ruled out as no longer of interest.

Her mother, Rosalind Hodgkiss, said: "Every morning, as Alice's disappearance grows longer and longer, brings new agony, new anguish."

The force has come under fire for delays in identifying Zalkalns as a risk, and Commander Graham McNulty admitted that British detectives would have no power to arrest him if he has fled abroad.

The general labourer, who worked at a building site in Isleworth, west London, is thought to have come to the UK in 2007, but authorities here have come under fire for apparently holding no record of his conviction for bludgeoning and stabbing his wife Rudite to death in Latvia.

He is described as white, 5ft 10in and stocky, with dark brown hair that he normally wears tied in a ponytail.


From Belfast Telegraph