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Police Arkinson murder file to be opened for coroner

Robert Howard, who was acquitted of killing teenager Arlene Arkinson.

Robert Howard, who was acquitted of killing teenager Arlene Arkinson.

Sensitive police material on the murder of a schoolgirl in Northern Ireland is ready for a coroner to view, an inquest heard.

Robert Howard, who was acquitted of killing teenager Arlene Arkinson, has been granted funding for legal representation. A full hearing is scheduled for this spring and Howard is expected to appear as a witness.

Senior coroner John Leckey held a preliminary session in Belfast.

Mark Robinson, a PSNI barrister, said sensitive documents relating to the case were ready for the coroner’s office to view at a police station in Carrickfergus.

Mr Leckey will then decide whether the information can be disclosed to the victim’s family and lawyers for Howard.

The coroner said: “Time is marching on, 28 April is not long.”

Fifteen-year-old Arlene, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, went missing in August 1994 after a night out at a disco in Donegal. Her body has never been found.

In 2005, Howard was found not guilty of murder but the jury was unaware he had a history of sex attacks and that two years earlier he was found guilty of murdering Hannah Williams, 14, in south London.

A long-delayed inquest has been scheduled to take place at Omagh courthouse in April.

Howard, who is serving a life sentence at HMP Frankland in Co Durham, has been named as a crucial witness.

 

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