Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Serial killer Robert Black's bid to challenge conviction for girl's murder is rejected

Robert Black
Robert Black

Serial child killer Robert Black has failed in a bid to overturn his conviction for kidnapping and murdering an Ulster schoolgirl.

The Court of Appeal rejected claims that the Scotsman's criminal past was wrongly revealed to a jury who found him guilty of abducting Jennifer Cardy (9) in 1981.

Jennifer was snatched as she cycled to a friend's house in Ballinderry in August 1981.

Her body, suspected of being sexually abused, was discovered nearly a week later at a dam near Hillsborough, Co Antrim.

Black (right), a 66-year-old former delivery driver from Grangemouth in Scotland, was said to have been in Northern Ireland at the time on a work trip for a London-based poster dispatch firm.

In 2011 the paedophile was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Jennifer and ordered to serve at least 25 years in prison. Black's criminal history was introduced in an attempt to show striking similarities with Jennifer's killing and prove his guilt.

His barrister argued that the trial judge erred in admitting the bad character evidence.

Black's sexual fantasies about abducting young girls, recorded in 2005 during his interviews with detectives investigating Jennifer's case, were played to the jury.

It was claimed these were not a reflection of what he had done to Jennifer, as the prosecution suggested.

But judges were also told Black's fantasies led him to hunt for young victims so he could live them out.

Prosecutors argued that the jury had a right to know about "distasteful" material found during the investigation.

It was further contended that Black deployed his signature method in dumping Jennifer's body. Black appeared via video-link from Maghaberry Prison for the verdict.

Jennifer's parents, Andrew and Patricia Cardy, were in court to hear Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan dismiss all grounds of appeal.

He held that the trial judge carefully reviewed evidence of the signature method deployed by Black.

Sir Declan said: "We don't consider that any of the grounds of appeal have been made out. We do not consider that the conviction is unsafe. The appeal is dismissed."

FACTFILE

It emerged during Robert Black's six-week trial at Armagh Crown Court that he had already been convicted of killing three other girls, abducting a fourth, and attempting to snatch another.

Jurors were told how he was jailed at Newcastle Upon Tyne Crown Court in 1994 for three unsolved murders from the 1980s – those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper (10) from Morley, near Leeds.

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