Northern Ireland

Arlene Arkinson: Forensic team at site of new search for teenager

Scene of the search
Image caption Specialist forensics have arrived at a field near where Arlene was last seen - 22 years ago

A specialist forensic team has arrived at the site of a new search for missing teenager Arlene Arkinson.

The 15-year-old from Castlederg, County Tyrone, disappeared after a night out in the Republic of Ireland in 1994.

Police have cordoned off an area near Killen, outside Castlederg, close to where she was last seen alive.

Image caption Arlene Arkinson was 15 when she went missing after a night out in Donegal in 1994

An area of disturbed earth was found by a farmer earlier in the week behind a derelict house.

Image caption The forensic team are examining an area close to the village of Killen, County Tyrone
Image caption The specialist team has been brought from England to examine the site

The forensic team has been brought in from England and arrived at the site at about 10:00 on Friday.

Police say it may take some time before they complete their examination.

Arlene's sister Kathleen said news of the search "just came out of the blue".

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Media captionArlene's sister, Kathleen, said news of the search 'just came out of the blue'

The field is on the same road where her sister was seen in a car with the convicted child killer and rapist Robert Howard, the main suspect in her disappearance.

Image caption Police say they have informed Arlene's family about the search

She said her family want "closure", adding that it had been a testing week for relatives of the missing girl.

"Whether Arlene is here or not, we're never going to give up fighting for Arlene because we're not going to get justice," she said.

"But we're going to get closure.

Image caption Arlene Arkinson was last seen with child killer Robert Howard, who was the main suspect but was acquitted of her murder
Image caption An inquest into Arlene Arkinson's death formally opened in February after years of delay

"That's all we want, just to find Arlene and to move on with our lives. It's been really, really tough."

Police have spent the past four days at the Killen site after they were alerted by a farmer who became suspicious after finding a mound of clay and stones behind a derelict house.

Det Ch Supt Raymond Murray said: "The family of Arlene Arkinson have been advised of this development purely as a precautionary measure.

"It would be premature to draw any inference from this initial report or the police response to it at this time."

Robert Howard, who died in prison in England last year, was found not guilty in 2005 of murdering Arlene Arkinson.

Image caption Howard died in prison last year

But the jury did not know that he was already serving a life sentence for raping and killing another teenager.

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Williams, from south London, went missing during a shopping trip in April 2001.

Howard was found guilty in October 2003 of raping and murdering her before dumping her body.

An inquest into Arlene Arkinson's death formally opened in February after years of delay.

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