14 October 2005

Arkinson family ask PSNI to resume searches for Arlene

Daily Ireland

Zoe Tunney

The family of missing Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson yesterday called on the PSNI to resume searching for her body.
The 15-year-old went missing near her home in Castlederg after returning from a disco in Co Donegal in August 1994.
The family have also demanded a public inquiry into the police handling of the case after a television documentary exposed the full extent to which the RUC and PSNI botched the investigation into her murder.
Members of the Arkinson family met with Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, David Hanson, yesterday. The minister said he was looking into the details of the documentary and promised to pass on the family’s request for a public inquiry to the relevant government ministers.
The Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, has also said her office will now begin an investigation into the police handling of the case.
A spokesperson for her office said: “We have received a complaint about the police investigation into the handling of the Arlene Arkinson case and we are now investigating that complaint.”
The Arkinson family said they are “disgusted” by the details of the police handling of their sister’s murder and have called on the police to find her body.
“They could have destroyed any hope we had of finding Arlene’s body, never mind her killer,” said Arlene’s sister Kathleen. “We blame the police for everything we have been put through for the past 11 years.
“But after what we have seen we will never give up now,” she added.
Last month, Robert Howard originally from Wolfhill in Co Laois was acquitted of the murder of Arlene Arkinson.
The convicted child killer is already serving a life sentence for the murder of 15-year-old schoolgirl, Hannah Williams, and has a criminal record which spans over 40 years which includes rape and sexual assault.
However, during his trial for Arlene’s murder, the PSNI decided not to allow the details of his past to be mentioned in court. An ex-detective is to be questioned about documents relating to the investigation which he allegedly held onto even after he retired from duty.
Robert Howard is now also wanted for questioning by gardaí over the disappearance of a number of women in the south.
The Arkinson family have consulted their solicitors with regard to getting a public inquiry into the police handling of the case.
Kathleen Arkinson said the family want the police to begin fresh searches for Arlene’s body.
“We want them to start looking again. No matter what it takes to find Arlene’s body the PSNI must do it.
“They owe us that much at least and we owe it to Arlene.”

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