Jurors sent home in Black trial
The jury in serial killer Robert Black's latest murder trial has been sent home for the day after failing to reach a verdict after almost three hours of deliberations.
Judge Mr Justice Ronald Weatherup told the jurors at Armagh Crown Court he did not want them to feel under any time pressure to make a decision.
The convicted triple child-killer is accused of abducting and murdering nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in Northern Ireland 30 years ago.
Mr Justice Weatherup said there might come a point when he would accept a majority verdict if 10 out of the 12 jurors were in agreement. But that point had not been reached, he told the three men and nine women of the jury.
"I do not want you to feel under any pressure to reach a conclusion to this trial," he said. The judge stressed they were not on any deadline.
Jennifer was snatched as she cycled to a friend's house in the quiet Co Antrim village of Ballinderry on August 12 1981. Her body was found six days later in a dam behind a roadside layby 15 miles away at Hillsborough, Co Down.
During the five-week trial, the Crown claimed that Black, a London-based dispatch driver at the time, was in Northern Ireland on the day doing delivery runs. It further contends that the kidnap and murder of Jennifer bears the hallmarks and signature of his past crimes against young girls.
Black, 64, denies the charges.
In 1994, Black was convicted of three unsolved child murders in the 1980s - 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds - and a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988.
Jennifer had marks on her neck when she was found that some experts claimed were indicative of a ligature. One pathologist said during the trial that it was possible her assailant had applied it to subdue the girl, and not intentionally to kill her.