The red bike Jennifer Cardy was riding when Robert Black snatched her from a country road could be key to charging the serial killer in connection with another child disappearance, a senior detective has said.
The predatory paedophile, who was yesterday found guilty of nine-year-old Jennifer's 1981 murder, has long been the prime suspect in the case of missing 13-year-old Genette Tate, who was last seen in a rural lane in Aylesbeare, Devon, in 1978.
No trace of the newspaper delivery girl has ever been found. All that remained at the scene was her bike and scattered papers.
Black (aged 64_) has already been questioned by Devon and Cornwall police about Genette's case, but three years ago the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided there was not enough evidence to charge him.
The investigation into her suspected murder could have been given a significant boost by yesterday's verdict at Armagh Crown Court.
Officers in Devon are now set to review in fine detail all the evidence presented to court during the six-week trial.
Police believe the circumstances of both Jennifer and Genette's cases bear remarkable comparison and such "similar fact" evidence may be enough to convince the CPS there is the chance of a conviction.
Some of the main similarities are that both girls were riding bikes when they went missing and both were last seen on rural roads flanked by high hedges.
During Jennifer's case the court heard police tapes of Black, who has never admitted to any of his four murder convictions, describing a recurring sexual fantasy where he abducted a pre-pubescent girl in his work van while driving along just such a road.
As he did in the North, the Scottish delivery driver also made work trips to the Devon area.
Detectives from both the North and Devon and Cornwall have been working together on both cases since 2004.
The jury in Black's trial for the kidnap and murder of Jennifer was allowed to hear crucial "similar fact" evidence about how the serial killer had offended in the past - including his convictions in 1994 for the murders of three young girls.
Detective superintendent Raymond Murray, who led the Cardy investigation, today explained the significance of Black's latest conviction to the Tate case.
"We are their similar fact," said the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer.
"They now have another case - oh look it's a girl taken from a bicycle, oh look it's a country road, oh look there's the high hedges."
He added: "There are striking similarities."
Jennifer was abducted as she cycled to a friend's house in the quiet Co Antrim village of Ballinderry in August, 1981. She was riding the shiny new bike she had been given for her ninth birthday less than two months before.
Her body was found six days later in a dam behind a roadside layby 15 miles away at Hillsborough, Co Down.