Belfast Telegraph

Driver 'used garage near body site'

A van driver suspected of murdering a schoolgirl told a customer he used a filling station close to where her body was found, his trial was told.

Jennifer Cardy was discovered floating face down in a dam behind a lay-by near Hillsborough, Co Down, on the main A1 road between Newry and Belfast on August 18, 1981. The nine-year-old had disappeared six days earlier from the nearby village of Ballinderry as she cycled to a friend's house.

London-based former dispatch driver Robert Black, 64, is standing trial at Armagh Crown Court accused of kidnapping and murdering her on the day she vanished. He denies the charges.

On the third day of the case, a retired Newry businessman to whom Black delivered advertising posters in the early 1980s told the jury he remembered one specific conversation with the driver about a petrol station at Hillsborough.

George Hughes, who owned poster billboard sites in Newry, said: "Once I remember asking him why he was coming over (from England) because there was a petrol shortage at the time.

"He told me he had a card he could produce at Shell petrol stations and they would give him a fill-up and he told me he got a fill-up at a Shell station in Hillsborough that morning. I knew that petrol station, it was on the main road coming home from Newry to Belfast."

The Crown has been trying to prove that Black, a Scot from north London, was in Northern Ireland on the day of the murder on a delivery that took him along the A1 dual carriageway between Belfast and Newry.

Under cross examination by defence QC David Spens, Mr Hughes confirmed he no longer had any records of the exact days when the company Black worked for - Poster, Dispatch and Storage (PDS) - delivered to him.

The Crown has claimed an extra £50 paid to Black on a PDS salary ledger two days after the day of the murder was the bonus he received for doing the Northern Ireland trip.

Prosecutors have also argued that petrol purchases made on the day after the murder demonstrate that Black was in Northern Ireland the previous day.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph