“Like the son of the devil” – murdered girl’s sister

A convicted child killer and rapist has won permission to challenge the holding of an inquest into the death of a schoolgirl who went missing after a night out in Bundoran.

A convicted child killer and rapist has won permission to challenge the holding of an inquest into the death of a schoolgirl who went missing after a night out in Bundoran.

Robert Howard who was cleared of murdering Castlederg girl Arlene Arkinson, was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the coroner’s decision to examine her disappearance in 1994.

His legal team claim the move involves an attempt to undermine the not guilty verdict returned against him.

The body of Arlene, who was 15, has never been found however, searches for the missing teenager’s body are still taking place in the Castlederg area.

Howard’s lawyers argue that the inquest is being used as a way of reopening issues surrounding the case because the Arkinson family were unhappy with the outcome of the criminal trial.

Counsel for the coroner contended that the test of necessity in holding an inquest had been met and with the coroner said to be satisfied that Arlene is dead, it was set out that his obligation was to probe all the circumstances.

Reacting to the news that Howard had been granted leave to challenge the holding of an inquest the sister of the missing teenager has said her family feel “pushed aside” by the legal system.

Kathleen Arkinson said the decision made the family feel horrible saying “There’s no rights for Arlene - it’s all for him. We feel that every time we try something for Arlene, we are pushed to the side.”

“He was the last man with Arlene in that car and if I was in a crash and I was the last person to survive, I would have to go into a box and tell what happened.

“What is he afraid of? I think it’s very wrong. To me, he is not human.

“He is like the devil’s son and to give him his legal rights, I think is completely wrong.”

No confirmation was given on whether or not Howard would co-operate with any inquest.