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  1. ITV Report

Zalkalns' former partner's mother: Latvian builder not a violent man

The mother of an ex-girlfriend of Arnis Zalkalns - the prime suspect in the Alice Gross murder investigation - has told ITV News the Latvian builder is not a violent man.

Gunta Meiere said her daughter has spoken to the police about Zalkalns and that she was "in shock" over his connection with the Alice case.

I didn’t even ask my daughter what the investigators wanted. She is already in shock.

– Gunta Meiere

Liga Rubezniece first came into contact with Zalkalns when he started writing to her from a prison in Latvia - where he was serving a sentence for murdering his wife in 1998.

After he was released from prison, the builder went to live with Liga in Liepaja before moving to the UK in 2008 when the financial crisis hit Latvia.

Zalkalns moved to the UK after the financial crisis hit Latvia. Credit: Met Police

Their relationship subsequently ended when Liga, who has two children with Zalkalns, discovered he was living with another woman in London.

The builder made a €300-per-month payment to Liga in order to support their children, however the last deposit was made in August this year shortly before he went missing.

Gunta Meiere spoke to ITV News about her daughter's relationship with Zalkalns. Credit: ITV News

Asked whether Zalkalns was a violent man, Ms Meiere replied:

The British asked me all of these questions [regarding whether Arnis was violent to her daughter]. I said – this is the first time I've heard of something like that.

– Gunta Meiere

However, Ms Meiere did ask her daughter whether Zalkalns had ever hit her and Liga replied that she would protect herself if necessary.

I did go to visit them but I didn’t notice anything wrong. He was always so busy at work.

I once asked my daughter – did he hit you? She said 'stop that, who hits who' [meaning – she would protect herself if necessary].

– Gunta Meiere

Police searching for Alice launched a murder investigation today after a body was found in the River Brent.

A police cordon on a road leading to the River Brent tow path. Credit: ITV News

Scotland Yard Commander Graham McNulty said "significant attempts" had been made to conceal the body.

The 14-year-old girl was last seen on August 28 and her disappearance has sparked the Metropolitan Police's biggest search operation since the 7/7 bombings.

Alice Gross, 14, failed to return home on August 28th. Credit: Family handout

Alice was last seen on CCTV walking next to the Grand Union Canal.

Arnis Zalkalns seen on CCTV cycling along Brentford Lock. Credit: Met Police

Zalkalns was seen in the same area 15 minutes later riding his bike.

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