Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Cardy murder: Tragic schoolgirl's mum embraces killer Black's lawyer

Collect picture of Jennifer Cardy provided by the PSNI.

It was a simple yet moving gesture that encapsulated the remarkable qualities of the family of murdered Northern Ireland girl Jennifer Cardy.

Jennifer Cardy's mother Patricia walked over to the lawyer who had defended the man found guilty of her daughter's kidnap and murder and embraced him warmly.

That hug with David Spens QC in a quiet corner of Armagh Crown Court demonstrated the generosity and kindness of spirit the entire Cardy family retained throughout a trial which exposed them to an ordeal second only to the horror of losing Jennifer.

For the Cardys, this verdict was not about winners or losers, it was about justice.

Jennifer's father, Andy, had made a point of shaking hands with all members of Robert Black's defence team moments earlier.

"We would not have been happy if he had been convicted without a proper defence and we believe he had the best defence that could ever have been provided for a murderer," Mr Cardy said afterwards.

Around midday, he and his wife had held each other tight as the guilty verdicts were read to a courtroom choked with emotion.

Mrs Cardy sobbed into her husband's shoulder. Close by, their children, Mark, Philip and Victoria, absorbed the outcome with typically understated dignity.

Few had failed to be impacted by the evidence heard over the course of the previous five weeks as Black's sordid crimes against little girls were outlined in gruesome detail.

As the forewoman of the jury revealed the outcome of their two day deliberation, a number of her fellow jurors wept openly. They had shared embraces before they entered the court for the final time.

Tears flowed on the press benches as well, with journalists hardened through years of covering violence in Northern Ireland overcome by the moment.

On the other side of the court, detectives who had spent almost a decade building the case against the predatory paedophile exchanged glances of unspoken satisfaction.

One lawyer later said he had never experienced a day like it in 20 years in a courtroom.

Contrast this to the reaction of Black.

There was simply no reaction from the depraved killer.

Not even a shrug of the shoulders.

But as he was led from the dock, finally out of sight of the Cardy family and the jurors, there was a palpable wave of relief.

Judge Ronald Weatherup thanked the jury for enduring what he conceded had been a most traumatic experience and told them counselling was available if they felt they needed it.

Outside Court No 1 and after they had shared a quiet moment together, the Cardys made a point of thanking everyone who had been involved.

They had presents for Crown counsel Toby Hedworth QC and Donna McColgan QC and for all the detectives involved in bringing Black to justice, especially detective constable Yvonne Younger who had been at their side throughout in her role as family liaison officer.

"We have seen two sides of humanity over the last weeks," Mr Cardy reflected later.

"We have seen the side of Robert Black, we have also seen the side of the lovely people that we have met."

The detective who reopened the investigation in June 2002, Raymond Murray said it was not a day to think about Black - a man he described as "a lost cause to humanity".

Instead he said he wanted to focus on Jennifer and her family.

"They have had to sit through very harrowing material for six weeks," he said.

"They've done it with the incredible dignity that I've come to know that family has over the past nine and half years of this investigation.

"My thoughts are with Jennifer - the fantastic little girl as she has been described to me and no doubt the fabulous woman she would have grown up to be.

"That opportunity was denied her and it was denied her because she was cruelly murdered and taken from her family."

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