Robert Black cremation undertaker premises vandalised
The undertakers who handled the cremation of notorious child killer Robert Black have had their premises attacked.
Three windows were smashed at funeral directors Bairds of Antrim over the weekend.
It is believed the company was attacked because it agreed to handle the paedophile's funeral, at the request of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
The prison authorities had struggled to find any local undertakers to handle the funeral arrangements after nobody came forward to claim the killer's remains.
On Saturday, the Belfast Telegraph exclusively revealed that a secret funeral for Black - whose victims included nine-year-old Ballinderry schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy - had taken place at Roselawn Crematorium.
The Presbyterian chaplain of Maghaberry Prison, Rev Rodney Cameron, carried out the six-minute service last Friday - 17 days after the Scottish inmate's death in the jail, aged 68. Black's ashes are currently with the chaplain, who will now dispose of them.
Given the sensitivities of the case, the Belfast Telegraph decided not to reveal the identity of the undertakers involved in the funeral. Despite this, the company's premises came under attack over the weekend.
A spokeswoman for Bairds told the Belfast Telegraph: "We can confirm that over the weekend some damage was caused to three windows at the front of the funeral home and we are currently liaising with the police on this matter."
The attack has been condemned and there have been calls for those behind it to be brought to justice.
It is understood the dead killer's body was taken directly from the mortuary to the crematorium in a service vehicle, not a ceremonial vehicle, and was not in the undertaker's care at any time.
The Belfast Telegraph has learned that the cost of Black's funeral was £1,000. Prison chiefs had been lambasted for their persistent refusal to say what was happening to Black's remains, and at what cost to the public purse.
The Prison Service finally confirmed the details yesterday. "His ashes have been entrusted with the Prison Chaplain at Maghaberry for discrete and appropriate disposal," a spokesman added.
"Funeral costs are estimated at £1,000, to include the cost of cremation and undertaker's fees."
Black was serving 12 life sentences for the kidnap and murder of four little girls when he died in jail on January 12.
Jennifer Cardy's family were not informed when or where Black's funeral was to take place, although they knew he had requested to be cremated after his death.
Last night, Jennifer's father Andy said his only feeling now is one of regret that Black never revealed the true extent of his crimes.
He added: "I'm just so sad that a man died without any repentance or ever admitting to what he had done, and has not given up all his secrets where he buried children.
"It's people like the Tates and Mary Boyle's parents and others who have not found the bodies of their children that I feel for now.
"We just want to try and get on with our lives now and keep striving forward."
Justice committee member Edwin Poots welcomed the fact the funeral costs were kept to a minimum, and condemned the attack on Bairds as "totally wrong".
"Jennifer Cardy's mother and father have spoken very clearly; this is what they want and we need to respect their views.
"The wider public also need to respect the Cardys; they are the people who suffered at the hands of this beast."
Mr Poots said Bairds was just doing its job. "Many people are asked to do jobs they don't want to do but nonetheless they have a role," he said.
"There should be no attacks on the undertakers. They must be free to carry out their business without fear of attack."
Ukip's David McNarry hit out at the attack, saying: "It's a disgrace and I would appeal to whoever did it to turn themselves into the police."