Wednesday 13 December 2017

Information unearthed in Ireland over disappearance of schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson

The 15-year-old disappeared in 1994
The 15-year-old disappeared in 1994

Substantive information has been unearthed in the Irish Republic over the disappearance of schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson, a lawyer said.

Her family is delighted to see progress on the decades-old case, a coroner was told.

The material includes papers on lines of inquiry pursued by Irish police, searches carried out south of the border, and a purported meeting between gardai and the former girlfriend of Robert Howard, the prime suspect in the murder.

Arlene (15) from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, vanished after a night out across the border in Co Donegal in August 1994.

Ivor McAteer, a legal representative for the Arkinson family, told her inquest: "The family are delighted that the inquiries are moving forward."

Barrister for the coroner Ronan Daly said: "The letter on the second of August and material accompanying that letter does address those four areas substantively."

Two folders have been submitted to the coroner but some information may be duplicated.

Mr Daly said the documents were useful for the forthcoming inquest.

Arlene was last seen being driven down a country road by Howard, a convicted paedophile with a lengthy criminal history.

Despite extensive searches, including a fresh dig in Tyrone last year, her body has never been found.

The inquest opened in February 2016 and has heard evidence from dozens of witnesses including Howard's former girlfriend Patricia Quinn and senior detectives who worked on the case.

Friday's hearing of the inquest was told a meeting was held with Ms Quinn, her sister and a representative of the Garda.

The Arkinson family have previously been critical of the length of time the inquest has taken.

The coroner told the court he was mindful of the need to avoid delays: "I don't want to adjourn this generally. I want to keep momentum."

The next hearing has been scheduled to take place on October 23.

Press Association

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