Northern Ireland

Child killer Robert Howard to be called to Arlene Arkinson inquest

Arlene Arkinson is believed to have been abducted and murdered
Image caption Arlene Arkinson went missing in 1994 and is believed to have been murdered

The senior coroner in Northern Ireland said he plans to call a convicted child killer as a witness at the inquest into the death of a Castlederg teenager.

Robert Howard was acquitted of killing 15-year-old Arlene Arkinson at a trial in 2005.

Last December, he lost a High Court challenge to the Arkinson inquest being held - his lawyers claimed it was a move to undermine his acquittal.

On Monday, it was revealed Howard is to appeal against the High Court ruling.

The Arkinson family lawyer told the preliminary hearing they want to have the inquest heard as soon as possible and were anxious to keep to the provisional date of 11 September.

They also urged a speedy resolution of the Howard appeal.

Coroner John Leckey said he felt the Court of Appeal would give full weight to what he called "the dreadful position" the Arkinson family had been left in.

She went missing after attending a disco in Buncrana, County Donegal, in 1994. Her body has never been found.

Mr Leckey also said it was his intention to call Robert Howard as a witness so the inquest would need to be held in a room secure enough to deal with a category A prisoner giving evidence.

Howard is serving life for raping and killing 14-year-old Hanna Williams from Deptford, south London.

Her body was found in a cement works in Northfleet, Kent, in March 2002.

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