Belfast Telegraph

'Breakthrough' in Arlene Arkinson hunt: Inquest into teen's murder halts as police get tip-off over 'body's location'

By Chris Kilpatrick

The sister of murdered teen Arlene Arkinson has begged for help to find her body after an anonymous tip-off to police about the location of her remains.

An inquest into the murder of the 15-year-old has been halted because of the development in the criminal investigation, said to be the most significant in the two decades since Arlene disappeared.

The schoolgirl from Castlederg went missing after a disco in August 1994.

Her body has never been found.

The long-delayed coroner's inquest into her disappearance had been due to start next month, but police yesterday sought and were granted an indefinite postponement.

The exact nature of the development in the case was not outlined as a lawyer for the PSNI made the unexpected application before Northern Ireland's Senior Coroner John Leckey at a preliminary hearing in Belfast.

Arlene's sister, Kathleen Arkinson, told the Belfast Telegraph that police had received a tip-off from a member of the public pinpointing the location of her body.

It is understood a series of fresh searches and digs are set to take place on the back of the information, with the Arkinson family urging anybody who can help to do so. "This is the biggest development in 20 years," she said.

"We want no more delays. The police should be out now to find Arlene.

"She has been lying out there for 20 years, longer than she was alive. Anybody out there who can help us in any way, please get in touch.

"If it takes it, we will stand in the road and beg for whatever amount of money it takes to find our sister."

Ms Arkinson said she had not yet been told details of the location given to police. A number of searches for her body have been carried out at various locations in the past.

Ms Arkinson said her family could not tolerate further delays. She was told of the development by a solicitor on Wednesday, and yesterday she demanded to see all police files relating to the case.

Police were asked to comment on the fresh investigations and what action they would be taking.

A spokesman replied: "Police inquiries are continuing."

Arlene went missing after a night out at a disco across the border in Co Donegal.

In 2005 convicted child killer Robert Howard, who was the last person seen with her, was found not guilty of murder. The trial jury was unaware of his conviction for murdering London teenager Hannah Williams in 2001.

The 69-year-old, who is serving a life sentence at HMP Frankland in Co Durham, had been due to give evidence via video-link at the inquest, which was scheduled to start on May 12 – almost seven years after it was first ordered.

Frank O'Donaghue QC, a lawyer for Mr Leckey, yesterday explained why the PSNI felt an adjournment was required.

"Matters related to the criminal investigation have arisen and it's important that hearing this inquest does not trespass on that investigation," he said.

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