Belfast Telegraph

I'm normal, sexual killer Robert Howard told detectives

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Child killer Robert Howard did not think he had any mental or sexual disorders, Belfast Coroner's Court has heard.

The paedophile, whose lengthy criminal record included violent and depraved sex offences, also denied having sadistic tendencies and rejected allegations he got a kick out of abusing vulnerable young girls.

Although he consistently protested innocence over the killing of Arlene Arkinson in August 1994, police found books on getting away with murder at his flat, it has emerged.

Frank O'Donoghue QC, counsel for the coroner, said: "He was asked if he had a psychological or sexual problem.

"He acknowledged his previous offences but did not know if he had any problems of that nature, saying 'he didn't think so'."

Arlene (15), from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, vanished after a night out across the border in Co Donegal.

She was last seen being driven off during the early hours of August 14, 1994 down a country road with Howard.

Weeks later Howard was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and murder and questioned some 13 times over the course of two days. He made no admissions and was not charged until more than a decade later.

Summaries of the transcripts from the 25 police interviews were read out during the 36th day of evidence at an inquest in Belfast's Laganside court complex.

Mr O'Donoghue said Howard repeatedly denied involvement in the schoolgirl's disappearance.

He added: "Howard said he hoped that she was alive, but if she was not he had nothing to do with it."

Although personal adverts requesting sexual encounters with women or couples were found at his flat, Howard denied knowing anything about them, according to the papers.

When asked if he deliberately preyed on young and vulnerable teenage girls to fulfil his own desires, the inquest was told Howard replied: "I did not harm Arlene Arkinson.

"I did not murder Arlene Arkinson and I don't know where Arlene Arkinson is now."

He was acquitted of Arlene's murder in 2005 by a jury that, for legal reasons, was not told about his previous convictions which included the murder of another teenage girl in south London several years earlier.

The inquest has been adjourned until May 27.

Belfast Telegraph


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