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Thursday 23 November 2017

Slip of paper that helped catch serial murderer

The receipt for petrol in Coventry that helped map Black's movements
The receipt for petrol in Coventry that helped map Black's movements

David Young

Detectives investigating Jennifer Cardy's murder trawled 560,000 old fuel receipts in a bid to nail Robert Black -- eventually they found the one that proved crucial.

On the face of it a credit card docket for a white Datsun van in Coventry would not appear relevant to the disappearance of the schoolgirl in Northern Ireland.

But it was absolutely vital in a cold case with little evidence to place the serial killer, who then worked as a dispatch driver based in London, near the scene of the crime.

It proved that Black, who scrawled his name on the receipt, was driving south to London the day after the murder in August 1981 in a van primarily used to deliver posters in Northern Ireland.

That, argued the Crown, could only mean one thing -- he was on the way back to base after disembarking from the overnight ferry from Belfast at Liverpool.

The receipt was found among reams and reams of microfiche retrieved from storage warehouses at the UK headquarters of Shell UK in greater Manchester.

Similar dockets were hugely significant in Black's triple murder trial in 1994.

The slip was one small piece of paper among 22 tonnes of documentation transported to police in Northern Ireland when the case was reopened in 2002.

The Black files contained references to 187,000 individuals, including 60,000 witness statements.

It took nine years to construct the case that finally ended with Black being found guilty of Jennifer's kidnap and murder.

Irish Independent

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