‘Belt and braces’ used to get Arlene evidence

Arlene Arkinson and her suspected killer Robert Howard
Arlene Arkinson and her suspected killer Robert Howard

A “belt and braces” approach is being adopted to ensure a former top detective appears at the inquest for missing teenager Arlene Arkinson, a coroner’s court has heard.

Eric Anderson, a retired Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) detective superintendent, may still have documents relating to the investigation into the schoolgirl’s disappearance more than 20 years ago, it was claimed.

Coroner Brian Sherrard told a preliminary hearing at Laganside court complex: “There has been a suggestion that Mr Anderson may hold papers.”

The coroner said the papers may or not be the same as those already in possession of the court but there was a requirement to call the former police officer as a witness nonetheless.

“They may be the same as we have, who knows, or he may no longer have papers,” the coroner stated.

Mr Anderson has cited ill health as a reason for non-attendance at other high-profile inquests.

However, the coroner has demanded that he bring any relevant information to a preliminary hearing scheduled for later this month.

If the ex-RUC officer refuses to co-operate, a formal summons will be issued, the court was told.

Mr Sherrard added: “This is a belt and braces approach.

“I assume Mr Anderson will co-operate but as a precaution he will also be formally summonsed.”

Arlene, 15, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, vanished after a night out at a disco in Co Donegal in 1994. She was last seen with convicted child killer Robert Howard, who died in prison last year.