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Former RUC detective summonsed to Arlene Arkinson inquest

Child killer Robert Howard who died in October

A PRELIMINARY inquest into the murder of teenager Arlene Arkinson has heard that a retired RUC officer is to be ordered by the coroner to hand over crucial documents relating to the original investigation.

The full inquest into the death of the teenager, whose body have never been found, is to begin on February 1 next year and is expected to last six weeks.

The 15-year-old from Castlederg Co Tyrone vanished after a night out in Co Donegal in 1994. She was last seen in the company of child killer Robert Howard, who died in prison in October.

Howard was acquitted of the teenager's murder by a jury that was unaware of his previous conviction for murdering a schoolgirl in south London.

The 71-year-old always remained the police's primary suspect in Arlene's disappearance and had been set to give evidence before the inquest.

Preliminary proceedings have been ongoing for eight years and a number of scheduled start dates have been missed because of police delays in disclosing documents and issues around security vetting.

A large number of files have now been handed over to lawyers for the Arkinson family and more are due to be disclosed.

At a short hearing at Belfast Laganside court yesterday coroner Brian Sherrard welcomed the fact that 49 of 63 outstanding files had now been handed over to the family's solicitors with the rest due to be handed over by December 18.

The inquest also heard that retired RUC detective Eric Anderson is to be summoned to give evidence. The former high ranking detective failed in November 2013 to give evidence to the Roseanne Mallon inquest citing ill health. However, Mr Sherrard said if he doesn't appear the documents he has in his possession relevant to the case should be presented.

The inquest will be held at Laganside court complex in Belfast city centre but proceedings will be live streamed to Omagh courthouse via videolink to facilitate members of the Arkinson family from otherwise making the arduous journey each day for the six week long inquest.

The coroner said that a room had been set aside in Omagh court house for the duration of the inquest.

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