Grave could be dug up in Arkinson case

Arlene Arkinson
Image caption Arlene Arkinson was 15 when she went missing in 1994, shortly after getting into a car with Robert Howard

An application has been made to dig up a grave as part of an investigation into the disappearance of County Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson.

The 15-year-old, from Castlederg, vanished after a night out in County Donegal in 1994.

She was last seen with child killer Robert Howard.

Barrister Ronan Daly told a preliminary hearing there is currently "an application currently for exhumation of a grave in relation to inquiries".

Mr Daly also told the hearing in Belfast a Danish woman may have further information to give to investigators.

The coroner, Judge Brian Sherrard, said the application for exhumation was a sensitive issue that could not be discussed in great detail.

Howard, who died in prison in 2015, always remained the prime suspect in the Arkinson case.

He was acquitted of the teenager's murder by a jury that was unaware of his previous conviction for murdering 14-year-old Hannah Williams, whose body was found in an industrial area close to the Thames Estuary.

Image caption Howard was found not guilty of Arlene's murder after a trial in 2005

Mr Daly also said a Danish woman may have further information to give to investigators.

The Garda's Missing Persons Bureau was told the Irish Embassy in Copenhagen had been contacted with alleged information about Arlene.

The Bureau spoke to the Danish woman by telephone.

Mr Daly added: "That person essentially indicated that she had some information in relation to the death and she was asked to email the details to the Missing Persons Bureau but preferred to hand-deliver to the Irish Embassy at Copenhagen."

He said that never happened.

PSNI lawyer Mark Robinson said police tried to ring a phone number she gave and it did not exist.

Arkinson family barrister Ivor McAteer said the information was "tenuous".

"The families have received information which may or may not be relevant but certainly serves to pick the scab of this particular sore and therefore we would underline that call for expedition," he said.

"It is important in circumstances this far removed that we have some clarity, if we can ask (the Garda) to expedite matters."

Mr Daly also said 63 new documents about the disappearance had become available for disclosure but may have some read across to previously disclosed items.

Henry Toner QC, the Arkinson family barrister, said events could go on and on but at some point there needed to be a conclusion.

The case was adjourned to 12 April.

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