Robert Black’s conviction to spur more cold case probes

SERIAL killer Robert Black’s fourth murder conviction will prompt further investigations into other unsolved child disappearances, police said last night.

The pledge to continue to re-examine cold cases linked to the notorious Scottish paedophile came after he was found guilty at Armagh Crown Court of kidnapping and murdering Jennifer Cardy in te North 30 years ago.

As Jennifer’s parents revealed they had prayed for their daughter’s killer, a senior detective insisted the investigation into Black would not stop.

“I certainly think the story of Robert Black doesn’t end here today, there are lines of inquiry which we still have and we are still looking at,” Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray said after the jury delivered their unanimous verdicts.

While Black, 64, has now been convicted of four child murders, he is suspected of involvement in many other crimes, notably the 1978 abduction of Devon schoolgirl Genette Tate.

Jurors took four hours and 15 minutes over two days to find Black, a former delivery driver, guilty of kidnapping and murdering Jennifer on August 12 1981.

Outside the court, Jennifer’s father Andy said the family’s strong Christian faith had sustained them through the horrors of the trial.

He said: “We have been able to live without bitterness and vengeance in our lives and when we lost Jennifer life was never the same but life had to go on and we had to live life.

“Robert Black stole the life of our daughter, Jennifer, but Robert Black didn’t steal the lives of me and my family — we’ve lived a happy, prosperous life, but we miss Jennifer each and every day.”

Andy Cardy, flanked by wife Patricia, daughter Victoria and sons Mark and Philip, said the family had prayed for Black in the wake of the verdict.

But he said he believed Black should pay the ultimate price for his crimes.

“I would have to say that I would still say that somebody who commits murders like this, I believe their lives should be taken, I believe they should be put to death, that’s my belief,” he said.

There were gasps around the courtroom as the verdicts were read out shortly after midday but Black showed absolutely no reaction — remaining as impassive as he had been through the six week trial.

Patricia Cardy sobbed into her husband’s shoulder as judge Mr Justice Ronald Weatherup sentenced Black to the mandatory life term.

The killer is already serving life in Wakefield prison in England for three other child murders and additional crimes against young girls.

“You have been convicted by a jury of murder,” Judge Weatherup told Black having ordered him to stand up.

“There is only one sentence that will be imposed by law.

“That’s the sentence of life imprisonment. Accordingly, I sentence you to life imprisonment.”

The minimum term Black will have to serve will be set at a separate hearing before Mr Justice Weatherup in Belfast next month.

Black’s lawyers are currently considering whether they will appeal against the verdicts.

The schoolgirl was snatched as she cycled to a friend’s house in the quiet Co Antrim village of Ballinderry. Her body was found six days later in a dam behind a roadside layby 24km away at Hillsborough, Co Down.

In 1994, Black was convicted of three unsolved child murders in the 1980s — those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish borders, Caroline Hogg, aged 5, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds — and a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988.

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.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Superintendent Murray said the focus of the Black investigation would now switch to elsewhere.

The PSNI has been the custodian of the 22-ton collection of Black case files during the nine-year investigation.

“Robert Black is a national case and it has to be looked at from a national perspective,” said Murray.

“Is there more to do around Robert Black? I think there probably is.”

During the trial the judge allowed the jury to hear crucial similar fact and bad character evidence about Black’s past crimes.

Murray said the successful outcome of the case could be potentially significant for other investigations.

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