Belfast Telegraph

Schoolgirl killer Howard loses bid to halt inquest

By Donna Deeney

A preliminary hearing of an inquest into the death of Arlene Arkinson will be held in the New Year, after convicted child killer Robert Howard lost his legal challenge to have it stopped.

The hearing is scheduled for January 6 in Belfast.

In September, Robert Howard, who had been charged with her murder was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the coroner's decision to examine the 1994 disappearance of Arlene Arkinson.

His legal team claimed the holding of an inquest and it's subsequent findings was an attempt to undermine the not guilty verdict returned against him in 2005.

Arlene, from Castlederg was just 15 when she vanished after attending a disco in Bundoran, County Donegal.

Her body has never been found, however she is believed to have been murdered.

Howard (67) who at one time lived near her home, was acquitted at trial by a jury that did not know that he was already serving life for raping and killing 14-year-old Hanna Williams from south London. Howard’s legal team had applied for a judicial review, arguing that an inquest would be used as a way of re-opening the case against their client, however High Court judge, Mr Justice Treacy dismissed the application.

Arlene's family described the legal challenge as a waste of taxpayers money and questioned why Howard was so determined to stop the inquest going ahead.

Her brother Martin said: “If a man has nothing to hide why do this. If I had nothing to hide I would do whatever I could to prove my innocence; I would go through it all to clear my name.”

Arlene was last seen in a car with Howard during the early hours of August 14, 1994 but despite over 80 searches, the most recent being in August this year, her remains have never been recovered.

Detective Supt Raymond Murray who was in charge of the most recent search said the police wanted to do everything possible to bring the family closure including approaching the search with a ,modern’ eye. However it was unsuccessful.

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