Murder accused previously killed three young girls, stunned jury told
Published 08/10/2011 | 05:00
serial child killer Robert Black's horrific criminal past was revealed to a stunned jury yesterday at his trial for the murder of another schoolgirl.
The paedophile was unmasked as Armagh Crown Court heard, for the first time, that the Scottish van driver had already been convicted of murdering three young girls, abducting a fourth and attempting to snatch another.
Sex attacker Black (64) now stands accused of kidnapping and murdering nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in the North 30 years ago.
Jennifer was abducted as she cycled to a friend's house in the quiet Co Antrim village of Ballinderry in August 1981. Her body was found six days later in a dam 16km away near Hillsborough, Co Down. She had been sexually assaulted.
Legal reasons had prevented the killer's criminal record being disclosed to the jury during the first eight days of the high-profile trial.
But that changed during a dramatic day in court as prosecuting lawyer Toby Hedworth outlined in graphic and shocking detail exactly what the man sitting in the dock had been found guilty of.
"The stage in the trial proceedings has been reached when I can tell you," he told the jury at the beginning of his address.
With an impassive Black listening with the aid of a special hearing device, Mr Hedworth revealed the defendant had been convicted of murdering three girls in the 1980s -- Susan Maxwell (11), Caroline Hogg (5) and 10-year-old Sarah Harper -- as well as the attempted kidnap of a 15-year-old girl in 1988.
The lawyer said the London-based delivery driver's reign of terror ended in dramatic fashion in 1990 when he was arrested in Scotland with a six- year-old girl gagged, bound and stuffed head first into a sleeping bag in the back of his van.
He was convicted of her abduction after pleading guilty.
Police subsequently linked him with the three murders, the attempted abduction of the 15-year-old and a series of other charges.
He denied the counts but was found guilty of them all at a 1994 trial in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Mr Hedworth said his past crimes did not in themselves make Black guilty of Jennifer's murder but claimed the striking similarities between the cases would prove it. He urged the jury: "What you certainly must not do is say 'well he's done those other ones, he's a thoroughly bad man so we'll find him guilty in this case as well'.
"What you have to do is look at what he has been proved to have done in respect of those other girls and see whether it assists you in deciding whether you can be sure that it was Robert Black rather than some other individual who abducted and killed Jennifer Cardy.
"The prosecution will submit that the similarities between Jennifer's case and those other cases make it clear that they were in fact the work of the same man."
Jennifer's parents Andy and Patricia, visibly emotional, watched from the public gallery as Mr Hedworth went on to detail Black's history.
Black denies kidnapping and murdering Jennifer.
Mr Hedworth said that, while he denied the crimes he was found guilty of in the past -- apart from the kidnapping in Stow when he was "caught red handed" -- he did admit to police in 2005 that he fantasised about abducting pre-pubescent girls and having sex with them in his van.
The court then heard disturbing details of what Black told officers he dreamed of doing to the girls. Mr Hedworth said Black had never admitted that "his behaviour ever moved from the fantasy to reality in a sexual way".
He told the jury the scenarios Black admitted dreaming about had distinct similarities with the circumstances of Jennifer's disappearance.
The trial continues.