Belfast Telegraph

Jennifer Cardy murder: Man 'made most Northern Ireland deliveries'

By David Young

A Scottish van driver accused of murdering a schoolgirl while making a delivery to Northern Ireland did his firm's runs to the region 99 times out of 100, his trial has heard.

A co-worker of Robert Black has claimed he usually made the trip because none of the other drivers in London-based company Poster Dispatch and Storage (PDS) liked the job.

Black, now 64, is accused of kidnapping and murdering nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy (right), from the Co Antrim village of Ballinderry, on August 12, 1981. He denies the charges.

The fifth day of the trial at Armagh Crown Court also heard the accuracy of a fuel receipt which allegedly incriminates Black defended by the owner of the service station that issued it.

The Crown, which claims the defendant snatched Jennifer after delivering posters to Belfast and Newry, has been attempting to prove he was in Northern Ireland on the day.

Toby Hedworth QC, prosecuting, read a statement that PDS warehouse manager Albert Wells gave to detectives investigating the case.

"Robbie Black did the poster delivery runs to Ireland 99 times out 100," he told officers in 2003.

He said other drivers did not like the ferry times and considered the bonus payment too small. Mr Wells has since died.

Black's lawyer, David Spens QC, told the jury that if he had been able to cross-examine him, he would have suggested his assertion was an exaggeration.

Former PDS accountant John Thompson made a similar claim about the Ireland run. He was not in court, but Mr Hedworth read his statement.

"Undoubtedly Robbie Black did them (Ireland runs) on the most regular basis because no-one else wanted to do them," Mr Thompson told police.

The Crown case against Black also asserts that a proof-of-purchase fuel docket signed by him shows he was in Northern Ireland on the day in question.

But Black's defence team has queried whether human error could have resulted in the wrong date being printed by the manually-operated credit card machine that issued it.

The owner of the filling station where Black allegedly bought fuel for his delivery van the day after Jennifer went missing, David Johnston, said he could not remember one instance in his 12 years in the business when that had happened.

"I can't recall any, no," he said from the witness box.

Black listened from the dock as Mr Johnston was questioned by both prosecution and defence counsel.

Jennifer's parents Andrew and Patricia and her younger sister Victoria were sitting in the public gallery.

Mr Johnston's Shell service station was located south of Coventry on the southbound side of the A45 to London.

The Crown contend that the only journey Black could have been making when he stopped for fuel on August 13 was from the docks at Liverpool, having taken the overnight ferry from Belfast.

But Mr Spens has cast doubt on the claim and has argued there is no proof his client was in Northern Ireland on the day of Jennifer's murder.

The trial was adjourned and will resume on Monday morning.

Background

Jennifer Cardy vanished as she cycled to a friend's house in Ballinderry in 1981. Her body was found six days later floating in a dam beside a roadside lay-by ten miles away near the Co Down village of Hillsborough. She had been sexually assaulted.

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