Monday 22 January 2018

Convicted child serial child killer Robert Black could have killed fifth girl

Serial killer Robert Black
Serial killer Robert Black
Nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy
Robert Black pictured following a court appearance in 2010

Gordon Rayner

THE SERIAL killer Robert Black, who was convicted of a fourth child murder today, could face charges over a fifth unsolved killing.

Black, who is already serving life sentences for the murders of three girls in the 1980s, was found guilty of the 1981 kidnap and murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in Northern Ireland today.

Prosecutors are now likely to be asked to review evidence linking him to another of Brtiain's most notorious open cases, the suspected murder of 13-year-old Genette Tate in 1978.

Miss Tate’s father urged him to “come clean” over whether he was responsible.

A jury at Armagh Crown Court convicted Black, 64, of abducting and murdering Jennifer Cardy as she cycled to a friend’s house in the village of Ballinderry, Co Antrim, on August 12, 1981.

Her body was found six days later in a dam behind a roadside layby 15 miles away at Hillsborough, Co Down.

The jury had been made aware that Black, a delivery driver from Scotland, was convicted in 1994 of the murders of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds.

Black has long been the prime suspect in the disappearance of 13-year-old Miss Tate, who was last seen in a country lane in Aylesbeare, Devon, in 1978.

No trace of the newspaper delivery girl has ever been found.

He has been questioned about her suspected abduction a number of times, but three years ago the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge the Scottish paedophile on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

But detectives from Devon and Cornwall Police have been closely monitoring events in Armagh and Black’s conviction, in a case where crucial bad character evidence was allowed to be presented to the jury, could prompt them to submit another file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Miss Tate’s father John Tate, 69, who is dying of prostate cancer, said: “I am relieved for Jennifer’s family. After 30 very long years they finally have some closure.

“I just wish Black would now give the rest of us the same sort of closure without going through the hell of a trial.

“Why doesn’t Robert Black come clean? He is never going to be released from prison.

“He seems to be a sadistic teaser. It appears he gets a kick out of this. I wish he would have the guts to be a man for once in his life and confess to everything that he has done.

“He has left his victims to rot in unidentified places, never giving their families the chance to bury their loved ones. That is monstrous behaviour.”

While Black has been linked to a number of other historic disappearances, a retired Scottish detective who has been investigating the killer for more than 20 years said Genette's was the only realistic prosecution left.

Former Lothian and Borders detective chief superintendent Roger Orr said 40 cases were reviewed by police in the 1990s to assess Black's potential involvement.

He was eliminated as a suspect from many of them, and Mr Orr said: “Now you're only really probably talking about Genette Tate.”

Black's current criminal record shows two convictions for sexually abusing young girls in the 1960s then a long gap before the first murder he committed – Miss Cardy in 1981.

Mr Orr said: “My gut feeling is there are gaps there, he's done more. “That's easy to say, but it's much harder to prove.”

Black's killing was finally ended in 1990 when he was caught red-handed by police with a barely-alive six-year-old girl hooded, bound, gagged and stuffed in a sleeping bag in the back of his van in the Scottish village of Stow. He had sexually assaulted her moments earlier.

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