Arlene inquest told the decision to search her sister’s home was based on “hearsay”

Arlene Arkinson

The inquest into the death of Tyrone schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson has been told a decision to search her sisters house two years after she disappeared was prompted by hearsay.

The schoolgirl's body has never been found after she disappeared in 1994.

Arlene, from Castlederg, was 15 years old when she disappeared after a night out in Bundoran.

In 1996, police dug up parts of Kathleen Arkinson's house and garden in Castlederg looking for Arlene's body. Nothing was found.

The inquest was told that that the information that led to the search was based on an overheard conversation.

It came from an unnamed source, described at the inquest as "sincere" by Brian Mc Vicker, the senior investigating officer on the case.

Questioned by Counsel for the Arkinson family, Mr Mc Vicker said he believed conducting the search was necessary to ascertain if the information was correct.

He added it was important to remove any cloud of suspicion from the Arkinson family, and to put the spotlight back on Robert Howard as the main suspect, after Arlene had been seen getting into his car on the day she was last seen.

Howard, who died last year, was arrested and charged with her murder, but was acquitted in 2005.

He was a convicted child killer, but that fact was not disclosed to the jury during his trial.