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Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

Find out more about private prosecutions

Alice Gross - joint statement from the CPS and the Metropolitan Police

27/01/2015

At the end of the investigation into the disappearance and death of Alice Gross, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) submitted a report to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). That report proposed that Arnis Zalkalns was responsible for her abduction and murder.

Although Zalkalns is dead, due to the considerable public interest in this case the CPS reviewed the key evidence and has provided advice to assist in deciding what further investigation, if any, may be appropriate.

Arnis Zalkalns became a person of interest at an early stage of the investigation into Alice's disappearance but much more evidence and information became available as the police investigation progressed. During the investigation it was not appropriate to provide a running commentary on that evidence.

Tim Thompson, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London said: "I have received a report on the Metropolitan Police investigation into the disappearance and death of Alice Gross. The report concerned Arnis Zalkalns, and the CPS has not been asked to consider any other suspect.

"It is not for the CPS to say whether or not Arnis Zalkalns killed Alice Gross - that would have been for a jury to decide - but instead to determine whether there was evidence which would have provided a realistic prospect of conviction, and therefore enough evidence to charge him with murder.

"I have concluded that the evidence now available would have been sufficient to give rise to a realistic prospect of conviction for murder, applying the Full Code Test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

"There is no eye-witness evidence. The scientific evidence does not link Arnis Zalkalns directly to Alice's death. Nonetheless the evidence as a whole gives rise to a circumstantial case that would clearly meet the full Code test. Of all the people the various strands of evidence might have implicated they in fact point towards Arnis Zalkalns: a person who has previously killed, and concealed the body of, a young woman.

"I would therefore have authorised the police to charge Arnis Zalkalns with murder if he had been alive at the time of the report."

DCI Andy Chalmers said: "I am satisfied that the evidence points firmly to Zalkalns as being responsible for the abduction and murder of Alice. I believed it was important for the CPS to assess the evidence that the investigation team had found against him to reassure Alice's family and the community, who were so affected by her disappearance.

"The public support for our investigation in the local community was overwhelming. I hope that the CPS's decision that, if he was alive, Zalkalns would have been charged with Alice's murder will in some way help the community come to terms."

Some of the evidence pieced together by the investigation team is outlined below:

It is possible to determine, based on the evidence available, that Alice was walking along the Grand Union Tow Path on the afternoon of 28 August 2014, and that Arnis Zalkalns was also cycling north on the tow path on that same afternoon.

The last known sighting of Alice on CCTV is of her walking north at 16:26hrs, the last connection between her phone and a cell mast was at 16:28hrs and her phone disconnected from the network at 17:11hrs. From CCTV evidence, it also appears that Arnis Zalkalns would have overtaken Alice on the tow path at about 16:10hrs. The CCTV suggests that he must have stopped for at least 80 minutes, and when he reappeared on camera his appearance indicated that he may have been in the water.

Arnis Zalkalns returned to the tow path that evening, the following morning - when there is a significant period of time unaccounted for - and again on the evening of 29 August.

Alice Gross's body was found in the River Brent on 30 September, having been tied into bags. Elaborate measures had been taken to keep her body submerged. A well-preserved cigarette butt was found metres from where Alice was found, and DNA from that butt has been matched to Arnis Zalkalns. DNA evidence also strongly suggests that Arnis Zalkalns was in contact with Alice's body. One of the bags used to conceal Alice's body mechanically matches the next bag remaining on a roll seized from his workplace. The bag was spattered with paint, as was the roll.

An iPhone cover was found concealed in Zalkalns garden.  Whilst it is not possible to positively identify it by reference to a serial number, as it does not have one, Alice's sister is confident it is hers.

The CPS's advice does not determine the guilt or innocence of Arnis Zalkalns, which could only be decided by a jury. Instead, it finds that the Full Code test of the Code for Crown Prosecutors would have been met in this case.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.