Belfast Telegraph

David Ford to rule over child-killer and rapist's legal aid

A convicted child-killer and rapist will learn next week if he is to be granted legal aid for an inquest into the death of a schoolgirl he was cleared of murdering, the High Court has heard.

Justice Minister David Ford is due to decide whether to approve funding for Robert Howard to be represented at the hearing to examine the disappearance of Arlene Arkinson.

Howard, who is seen as a crucial witness, has launched judicial review proceedings in a bid to force the authorities to come to a decision. Fifteen-year-old Arlene, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, went missing in August 1994 after a disco in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Her body has never been found.

In 2005 Howard was acquitted of her killing. But the jury was unaware he was already serving life for raping and killing another girl.

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