Arlene inquest told: ‘I could have been next’

Arlene Arkinson has never been found after she disappeared in 1994.
Arlene Arkinson has never been found after she disappeared in 1994.

A former girlfriend of child killer Robert Howard has told the Inquest into the death of the missing Castlederg teenager, Arlene Arkinson, that she feared she could have been his next victim.

Patricia Quinn recalled how she was locked in a room for two days while visiting the paedophile in Scotland and described him as an evil, manipulative charmer to whom she was vulnerable.

“For two days he kept me locked in,” she said.

“He kept the keys down the front of his trousers. Only he fell asleep, I could have been the next one.”

Schoolgirl Arlene was last seen in a car with Howard. He was acquitted of her murder in 2005 by a jury that was not made aware of his conviction for murdering 14-year-old Hannah Williams from South London several years earlier. He remained the prime suspect until his death in prison last year aged 71.

Mrs Quinn was giving evidence to the inquest for a second time. She was previously excused after claiming the stress of the case had made her contemplate suicide.

The court heard how she had visited Howard after he fled following the schoolgirl’s disappearance in October 1994.

She had gone to Scotland and stayed for a fortnight, having been subjected to intimidation in her home town, the court heard. Mrs Quinn later claimed that police in Northern Ireland had been informed about her ordeal but did not take it seriously.

“You know what they told me?” she said: “They said you were lucky he didn’t tie you up.”

She denied being in a relationship with Howard.

However, she accepted that a statement, given to police in 2002, detailed that they had been intimate.

Henry Toner QC, barrister for the Arkinson family, said: “What’s described there is quite substantially more than kissing and cuddling.”

Mrs Quinn provided a bail address for Howard when he was accused of drugging, raping and imprisoning a teenage girl in Castlederg in 1993.

She has also admitted lying to provide an alibi, adding that she did not know that Howard was a violent abuser.

“I said he did come in but he didn’t come in,” she said.

“I was vulnerable to him. He could have charmed the bees off the trees.

“If I had knew (sic) the kind of man he was he would have never entered my front door. I did not know what kind of person he was until I went to Scotland and then I found out.”

When asked by the Arkinson family barrister if she had thought about the real consequences of her lie, she replied that she felt guilty but was not responsible.

She said: “It was a white lie. Maybe it ended up a complicated lie, but at the time I thought it was only a wee white lie.

“The police have lied through their teeth this 21 years. They have made my life a misery. I don’t care any more. In 93 and 94 they had him here for a reason. Nobody can deny that.”

At hearing.