Belfast Telegraph

Murder accused 'made trips to area'

A Scottish van driver accused of murdering a schoolgirl while delivering 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, 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.

Jennifer vanished as she cycled to a friend's house in Ballinderry. 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.

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. Black's defence team has queried whether human error could have resulted in the wrong date being printed by the 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 happened.

Black, wearing a red jumper, listened from the dock as Mr Johnston was questioned by prosecution and defence counsel while Jennifer's parents Andrew and Patricia and her younger sister Victoria sat in the public gallery. The trial was adjourned and will resume on Monday morning.

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