Thursday 22 March 2018

'Shroud of secrecy' over Robert Black funeral is slammed

Child murderer Robert Black
Child murderer Robert Black

Deborah McAleese

THE Northern Ireland Prison Service has been slammed for imposing a "shroud of secrecy" over the funeral of serial child killer Robert Black.

Prison chiefs have refused to reveal if the notorious paedophile's funeral has taken place, if his remains have been removed from Northern Ireland, or provide details of any cost to the public purse.

Black died at Maghaberry Prison more than two weeks ago at the age of 68. He was serving 12 life sentences for the kidnap and murder of four little girls.

Under prison rules the State has a duty to cover the burial costs of every convict who dies behind bars.

Following his death demands were made that his remains not be kept in Northern Ireland, where he abducted and murdered Ballinderry schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy in 1981.

Black was expected to be cremated, with his remains discarded outside of the province.

However, the Prison Service in Northern Ireland has repeatedly refused to answer any questions from the Belfast Telegraph relating to the killer's funeral.

Ukip MLA David McNarry described the authorities' silence as "outrageous".

"We don't need to know all the ins and outs of the funeral arrangements, but the public has a right to know if this man's remains are still in Northern Ireland and what cost there has been to the public purse for his funeral, if it has even taken place," said Mr McNarry.

"This shroud of secrecy is just treating the public with contempt. The public has a right to know if this child killer, who caused so much pain and suffering, has been laid to rest here.

"We need reassurances that he has not. Just tell us the truth and put an end to all of this. The way the Prison Service is carrying on is outrageous."

Justice committee member Edwin Poots said while he had no interest in funeral details, he would welcome confirmation from the Prison Service that the killer's remains were no longer here.

"I would be happy to know that his remains are not in Northern Ireland," the DUP MLA added. "After that, the less we know about the whereabouts of Robert Black the better.

"Robert Black was a particularly evil individual. He will be getting his true justice as we speak."

Black was jailed in 1994 for the murders of Susan Maxwell (11), from Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland, in 1982; Caroline Hogg (5), from Edinburgh, in 1983, and Sarah Harper (10), from Morley, near Leeds, in 1986.

In 2011 he was also convicted of the murder of Jennifer (9), from Co Antrim, in 1981.

At the same time he was convicted over a failed abduction bid on Teresa Thornhill in Nottingham in 1988 when she was 15.

He was finally caught in 1990 when he tried to abduct a six-year-old girl, who was found gagged and stuffed in a sleeping bag in his van in Stow in the Scottish Borders.

Following his death, detectives said they were days away from charging him with the abduction and murder of Genette Tate (13), who went missing in Devon in 1978 and whose body has never been found.

Black never expressed any remorse and refused to co-operate with police investigating other killings. It recently emerged that he may have murdered up to 16 girls.

Belfast Telegraph

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