Sunday 18 March 2018

Teenager escaped notorious paedophile Robert Black after biting and kicking him

David Young

A TEENAGER’S desperate struggle with serial killer Robert Black as he tried to bundle her into his van has been recounted at his murder trial.

Fifteen-year-old Teresa Thornhill, who ultimately escaped the notorious paedophile's grasp after biting and kicking him, later told police: "I was fighting for my life."

Dramatic details of the failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988 were recounted at Armagh Crown Court on the 13th day of Black's trial for the kidnap and murder of Jennifer Cardy in Northern Ireland seven years earlier.

Earlier, the jury visited the quiet country road in Ballinderry, Co Antrim, where Jennifer was snatched in August 1981 and the dam 15 miles away where the nine-year-old's body was found six days later.

In 1994, Black was convicted of three other child murders and the attempted kidnapping in the Radford area of Nottingham.

The court heard today that work records and petrol purchase receipts placed the former delivery driver close to all those crime scenes.

The Crown contends that similar documentation links the Scottish killer to the area where Jennifer vanished. The 64-year-old denies the charges.

Retired Scottish police detective Roger Orr, who led the triple murder investigation in the early 1990s, told the jury of Black's efforts to capture Teresa in April 1988.

He said she had been walking home with a friend when they spotted a blue Ford Transit van driving suspiciously. She and her friend then went their separate ways before Teresa again saw the vehicle, this time parked up on the road in front of her.

Mr Orr said she crossed to the other side of the road because she felt uneasy. The former Lothian and Borders Police detective chief superintendent said Black then opened the bonnet and called across to her.

"He asked her if she could fix engines," he said.

"At this time she was becoming quite concerned and quickened her pace.

"But she was immediately grabbed from behind, she didn't see it coming."

Mr Orr said Black enveloped her with both arms and tried to drag her over to his van.

"It was a very strong bear hug, pinning her arms by her sides and lifting her off the street," he said.

In her efforts to escape, Teresa bit Black on the hand and arm and knocked off his glasses.

"She screamed continuously and struggled," said Mr Orr. "In her own words, she was fighting for her life."

Black thrust his hand over her nose and mouth and tried to push her into the door of his van. Mr Orr said the schoolgirl resisted fiercely, wedging her feet up on either side of the door frame and refusing to go in.

"He responded by saying 'Get in, you bitch'," said the retired officer.

At this point, Teresa's friend, who had heard her cries for help, came running to the scene. Black finally let go and the pair ran away.

Mr Orr recounted Teresa's lucky escape as he gave evidence for a second day about Black's dark criminal past.

The serial killer showed no emotion in the dock as the details were outlined to the jury and judge Mr Justice Ronald Weatherup.

Jennifer's parents, Andy and Patricia, and her younger sister, Victoria, watched from the public gallery.

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