Belfast Telegraph

Child killer in legal bid over death of teenager

A convicted child killer and rapist has launched a legal challenge to the holding of an inquest into the death of another schoolgirl he was acquitted of murdering.

Robert Howard is seeking to judicially review the senior coroner's decision to examine events surrounding the disappearance of Arlene Arkinson in 1994.

His barrister, Karen Quinlivan, yesterday claimed it involved a "subtext" of seeking to undermine the not guilty verdict returned against him.

Arlene, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, was aged 15 when she vanished after attending a disco in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Her body has never been found, but she is believed to have been killed.

Howard (67), who formerly lived near her home, was charged with her murder but was acquitted at trial in 2005.

The jury did not know that by then he was already serving life for raping and killing 14-year-old Hanna Williams from Deptford, south London.

Howard's legal team unsuccessfully sought reporting restrictions at the outset of his application for leave to seek judicial review.

After that bid was rejected, Ms Quinlivan stressed that the coroner's stated purpose was to allow Arlene's death to be registered.

She argued that this could be achieved through an alternative, High Court procedure with the Presumption of Death Act 2009 coming into effect.

The barrister was unable to confirm whether or not Howard would co-operate with any inquest.

Judgment in the application was reserved. Mr Justice Treacy said he wanted time to consider submissions and would give his ruling as soon as he could.

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