Northern Ireland

Robert Howard: Child killer and rapist dies in prison custody

Robert Howard being led to a police car after a court appearance
Image caption Robert Howard was a suspect in the murder of the County Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson but was found not guilty after a trial in 2005

The convicted child killer and rapist Robert Howard has died in prison custody at a hospital in England.

The 71-year-old Irishman was serving a life sentence for raping and killing 14-year-old Hanna Williams from London, whose body was found in 2002.

He was also a suspect in the murder of the County Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson who went missing after going to a disco in County Donegal in 1994.

He was charged with murdering the 15-year-old but was acquitted in 2005.

The jury was not told that Howard, who was originally from County Laois, had a history of sexual violence and by then he was already serving a life term for killing and raping Hanna Williams.

Arlene, a schoolgirl from Castlederg, was last seen alive in a car driven by Howard.

She has been missing, presumed dead, for 21 years. A number of searches have been carried out at various locations, but her body has never been found.

Image caption Arlene Arkinson was 15 went she went missing in 1994, shortly after getting into a car with Robert Howard, who was later cleared of her murder

Howard was an inmate at HMP Frankland in County Durham but died in hospital two days ago.

It is believed he died from natural causes.

A spokesman for the UK Prison Service said: "HMP Frankland prisoner Robert Howard (dob 20/4/1944) was pronounced dead in hospital at 1.55pm on Friday.

"As with all deaths in custody there will be an investigation by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman."

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