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.

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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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