Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Arlene inquest: Howard must attend

A coroner today ruled that an inquest will be held into the disappearance of missing schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson and that the man acquitted of her murder will be compelled to give evidence.

The decision was made today at a preliminary hearing in Londonderry courthouse.

The Castlederg schoolgirl went missing in August 1994, and is believed to be dead.

Robert Howard, the last man seen with her, was tried on a charge of killing her, but was found not guilty in 2005.

Coroner John Lecky today told the hearing that he would be asking for the trial depositions from 2005, the police evidence from the time of the disappearance, and a Police Ombudsman's report which followed the Arkinson's family's complaint about the police handling of the case.

He said that issues such as location and a jury would be decided after a possible second preliminary hearing.

He said he would also be writing to Howard's legal representatives, Madden and Finucane, to inform them of the decision.

"It is certain that he would be a witness at the inquest," said Mr Leckey. "He is the person who is suspected of causing the death and there is no suggestion that the police are looking for someone else."

The coroner said he has not yet decided if Howard is suspect to double jeopardy rules, as he has already been tried and found not guilty.

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