Belfast Telegraph

Fuel receipts 'link driver to Jennifer Cardy's murder'

By Deborah McAleese

Thirty-year-old fuel receipts and work records place a van driver at the scene of the abduction and murder of a young schoolgirl, a court has heard.

The paperwork is proof that Robert Black (64) was in the area on the day 30 years ago when nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed in one of Northern Ireland’s most notorious murders, a prosecution lawyer claimed.

Jennifer disappeared shortly after lunchtime on August 12, 1981 as she cycled to a friend’s house 1.5 miles away from her family home in Ballinderry. Her body was found by two duck hunters floating in a nearby pond six days later.

“At lunchtime August 12, 1981, a nine-year-old girl set off on her bicycle to visit a friend’s house 1.5 miles away. That little girl never got to her friend’s. Somewhere along the way every parent’s worst nightmare occurred. She was abducted, sexually assaulted and killed,” prosecution barrister Toby Hedworth QC told Armagh Crown Court.

At the time of the murder London-based van driver Black was working for the now defunct delivery company Poster, Dispatch and Storage Ltd (PDS). His job meant that he would often travel all over Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr Hedworth said that an extensive police trawl through petrol purchase receipts, dispatch orders and company bonus payments provides evidence that Black was in the region when Jennifer was murdered.

“He was, in fact, on that Wednesday morning, driving a poster delivery van off the Liverpool ferry at Belfast dock and commencing his drops at Belfast, then Dunmurry and finally at Newry, before returning to Belfast to catch the evening ferry back to England,” Mr Hedworth said.

He added: “This would leave him — after completing his deliveries — with time on his hands in the general Lisburn area at exactly the time that little girl was plucked from the roadside in Ballinderry.”

Mr Hedworth further claimed that Black's route back to the ferry would have taken him straight past the lay-by beside which Jennifer's body was located.

Jennifer’s mother Patricia told the court that before her daughter left for her friend’s house she had asked her to wind her watch for her so she could keep an eye on the time and make sure she was home in time for the children’s programme Jackanory at 4.30pm.

“She was anxious that day to go out on her lovely new red bike. She had only had it two weeks,” Mrs Cardy said.

She said that she used to walk the route with Jennifer so that she could get used to the traffic and learn how to manage the bicycle.

Mrs Cardy recalled what her daughter had been wearing on the day of her murder,

“It was her favourite T-shirt, a white T-shirt trimmed with red round the neck and on the T-shirt were red strawberries ... I never saw her alive again.”

Black denies the charges against him. The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph