Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Experts disagree on how girl died

Jennifer Cardy's body was found in a dam six days after she vanished in 1981

Pathologists disagree on how an alleged victim of serial child killer Robert Black died and if she was sexually assaulted, a court has heard.

The convicted triple murderer, from Scotland, is standing trial at Armagh Crown Court for the August 1981 kidnap and murder of Jennifer Cardy in Northern Ireland.

The nine-year-old schoolgirl was snatched as she cycled to a friend's house in the quiet Co Antrim village of Ballinderry - she was found dead six days later floating in a dam 10 miles away near Hillsborough, Co Down.

Black, who in 1994 was found guilty of murdering three other young girls in the 1980s, denies the latest charges.

The tenth day of his trial also heard evidence that the stopped time displayed on Jennifer's wind-up watch - 5.40pm - when she was pulled from McKee's dam indicated she had been dumped into the water around four hours after she disappeared.

The Crown contend that former van driver Black murdered Jennifer while in the region for one day doing a delivery run for the London-based poster dispatch company he worked for.

Former Northern Ireland state pathologist Professor Thomas Marshall, who carried out the autopsy on Jennifer's remains, said while there were signs of neck compression, he was convinced she had died from drowning. "I've always been certain that she died from drowning," he said.

As Black, 64, watched on from the dock, the retired medical expert said he had also not found any evidence of a sexual assault. "I did think about it and came to the conclusion there was no evidence of sexual activity," he said.

However, it later emerged that a senior pathologist who is to appear as another Crown witness holds contrary views.

Defence counsel David Spens QC asked Prof Marshall if he was aware that Dr Nathaniel Cary, who reviewed the case in more recent years, found the cause of death to be strangulation and that there was evidence of a sexual assault. Prof Marshall said he knew of Dr Cary's views but that he stood by his 1981 findings.

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