PSNI search flat in Arlene Arkinson investigation

A flat belonging to convicted child killer Robert Howard when was searched today by detectives investigating the murder of Arlene Arkinson.

A flat belonging to convicted child killer Robert Howard when was searched today by detectives investigating the murder of Arlene Arkinson.

The 15-year old disappeared while on her way home after attending a disco in Bundoran in August, 1994.

She was seen in Howard’s company shortly before her disappearance and this was the flat Howard was living in at the time.

A PSNI spokesperson told media that detectives were not looking for human remains but were searching the derelict flat, which had been searched previously, following the receipt of new information.

He said: “This investigation remains active and ongoing. But it is also extremely complex and requires detectives to adopt a thorough and co-ordinated approach to progressing investigative opportunities.

“Some new information has been received. Detectives have made enquiries over the last few months to examine this information and this had led to an expansion of the existing search plan.

“The fact that new information has come into the enquiry as a result of previous appeals is heartening. Police still believe that there may be more information in the community and we would appeal for anyone with any information to come forward - for Arlene and for her family.”

PSNI teams, assisted by specially trained body recovery dogs, also carried out searches at a number of sites between Castlederg and Clady.

The spokesperson said the searches had the “twin objectives of recovering the schoolgirl’s remains and progressing the investigation”.

He continued: “The sites to be covered in this phase of the search strategy have links to the overall investigation into Arlene’s disappearance and murder.

“Searches will continue to be conducted on a planned roll-out, depending on weather conditions, availability of resources and operational commitments.”

He also said the PSNI were keeping the Arkinson family informed of developments.

“We sympathise with Arlene’s family in their continued distress, frustration and anger.

“We maintain an absolute commitment to working to resolve their unbearable situation despite the complexities and timespan of the investigation.”

Robert Howard was acquitted of Arlene Arkinson’s murder in 2005. He is serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Hanna Williams from south London. Her body was found in a cement works in Kent in March 2002.

No inquest has yet been held into Arlene Arkinson’s death and it is thought that it may be up to two years before one is. Last December, Howard lost a High Court appeal against the holding of an inquest, with his lawyers arguing that it would undermine his acquittal, and he is appealing that decision.