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Arlene Arkinson inquest: Witness tells court she will 'do myself in'

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 29/02/2016

Arlene Arkinson vanished after a night out at a disco in 1994
Arlene Arkinson vanished after a night out at a disco in 1994

A woman who lied to police investigating the disappearance of Arlene Arkinson has threatened to take her own life because of the pressure of the case.

In an angry outburst, Patricia Quinn - a friend of child killer Robert Howard - said her life has been made a misery since the Co Tyrone schoolgirl vanished more than two decades ago.

Donna Quinn's mother Patricia (Pat) at Belfast Coroner's Court for Arlene Arkinson's inquest
Donna Quinn's mother Patricia (Pat) at Belfast Coroner's Court for Arlene Arkinson's inquest

She told Belfast Coroner's Court: "I am fed up with this life. When I go home tonight, you'll never hear tell of me again. I am going to do myself in.

"Twenty one years of this life. The Arkinsons have tried to smother me, petrol bomb me. What did the police do? Nothing."

Proceedings had to be halted after just 10 minutes following the dramatic claim.

Fifteen-year-old Arlene, from Castlederg, vanished after a night out at a disco across the Irish border in Co Donegal on August 13, 1994.

Robert Howard was acquitted of her murder in 2005 by a jury which was not told of his conviction for killing a south London teenager several years earlier.

However, the 71-year-old remained the prime suspect in the Arkinson case until his death in prison last year.

Ms Quinn was giving evidence for a second day at the long-delayed inquest.

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She added: "The last 20 years I have been hassled, battered, kicked and nobody has done nothing about it. Why shouldn't I be angry."

Howard had lived with Ms Quinn and her three children in Castlederg and she provided a bail address when he was accused of drugging, raping and imprisoning another teenage girl in 1993 - a year before Arlene went missing.

Last week Ms Quinn alleged that he had been a police informer.

During her brief stint in the witness box, she raised questions about the police actions.

"Why did the police not arrest him until the end of September," she said. "That's nearly 46 days after Arlene disappeared. Why did they keep him on their books and not arrest him?"

Judge Sherrard interjected saying that the inquest would be hearing from the police.

Ms Quinn added: "I hope you do and I hope they tell the truth too."

After a short adjournment Ms Quinn was deemed unfit to continue giving evidence.

Judge Brian Sherrard told the court she would be recalled but advised that she seek medical help.

"I have some concerns about your welfare," the coroner said. "I appreciate this is stressful but it is also important that we hear what you have to say.

"I am going to allow you to go home and invite you back on a different day.

"Because of the comments that you made, I would advise you to go and speak to your GP."

The hearing continues.

If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, contact the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or Lifeline (080 8808 8000)

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