Family to ‘never give up’ on Arlene as searches resume

Police pass the family of murdered schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson on the outskirts of Castlederg, Co Tyrone where police are searching for the body of Arlene, 17 years after her disappearance. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 31, 2011. Police have pledged to do everything they can to recover the body as fresh searches for her remains began. Arlene, 15, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, went missing after a night out across the Irish border in the seaside town of Bundoran, Co Donegal. Police believe she was abducted and killed. See PA story ULSTER Arkinson. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Police pass the family of murdered schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson on the outskirts of Castlederg, Co Tyrone where police are searching for the body of Arlene, 17 years after her disappearance. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 31, 2011. Police have pledged to do everything they can to recover the body as fresh searches for her remains began. Arlene, 15, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, went missing after a night out across the Irish border in the seaside town of Bundoran, Co Donegal. Police believe she was abducted and killed. See PA story ULSTER Arkinson. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

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The sister of murdered teenager Arlene Arkinson vowed to “never give up” on finding her as fresh searches for her body got underway yesterday.

The 15 year-old disappeared after a night out in Bundoran in the early hours of August 14, 1994.

The extensive search operation for her remains has resumed after a break of several months.

This fresh wave of searches got underway last August on the outskirts of Castlederg. Now a number of locations will be targeted across rural areas of County Tyrone which have links to the overall investigation into Arlene’s disappearance.

A police spokesperson said: “Following on from searches last year, the resumed operation has the twin objectives of recovering the schoolgirl’s remains and progressing the investigation.

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

Specialist police dogs, trained to locate missing bodies, are to be used during the searches.

Arlene’s sister Kathleen said yesterday that she would never give up hope of finding her sister’s body.

“It has been so, so long, but I’ll never give up. It has taken an awful toll on me, especially the delay in holding the inquest. You cannot keep playing with people’s minds like this. There are times when I just don’t want to leave the house, but I know the people involved in the search are doing their best. I appreciated that.”

In 2005, a 61-year-old Robert Howard, a convicted child killer, stood trial for Arlene’s murder but was acquitted. His past convictions for murder, rape and child abuse were withheld from the jury.

Earlier this month, Northern Ireland’s senior coroner John Leckey told a preliminary hearing of the inquest into the teenager’s death that he planned to call Howard to give evidence. He added that the inquest, due to begin in September, may not start for two years.