Belfast Telegraph

Serial child killer Robert Black fails to overturn Jennifer Cardy murder conviction

Serial child killer Robert Black failed today in a bid to overturn his conviction for kidnapping and murdering a Co Antrim schoolgirl.

The Court of Appeal rejected claims that the Scotsman's criminal past was wrongly revealed to a jury who found him guilty of abducting Jennifer Cardy 32 years ago.

Arguments that his trial should have been halted due to a lack of opportunity and identification evidence against him were also dismissed.

Nine-year-old Jennifer was snatched as she cycled to a friend's house in Ballinderry in August 1981.

Her body, suspected of being sexually abused, was discovered nearly a week later at a dam near Hillsborough, Co Antrim.

Black, a 66-year-old former delivery driver from Grangemouth in Scotland, was said to have been in Northern Ireland at the time on a work trip for a London-based poster dispatch firm.

In 2011 the paedophile was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Jennifer and ordered to serve at least 25 years in prison.

It emerged during the six-week trial at Armagh Crown Court that he had already been convicted of killing three other girls, abducting a fourth, and attempting to snatch another.

Jurors were told how he was jailed at Newcastle Upon Tyne Crown Court in 1994 for three unsolved murders from the 1980s - those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds.

Black's criminal history was introduced in an attempt to show striking similarities with Jennifer's killing and prove his guilt.

His barrister argued that the trial judge erred in admitting the bad character evidence.

Black's sexual fantasies about abducting young girls, recorded in 2005 during his interviews with detectives investigating Jennifer's case, were played to the jury.

It was claimed these were not a reflection of what he had done to Jennifer, as the prosecution suggested.

But judges were also told Black's fantasies led him to hunt for young victims on whom he could live them out.

Prosecutors argued that the jury had a right to know about "distasteful" material found during the investigation.

Searches of the convicted killer's van and home uncovered tape, rags, children's clothing, child pornography and sexual objects.

He told police that he would have worn the children's clothing, including a swimsuit for a girl aged eight to ten, for his own sexual gratification.

It was further contended that Black deployed his signature method in dumping Jennifer's body.

There were striking similarities between her killing and the three other young girls whose lives he took, according to the prosecution.

Black appeared by a video-link with Maghaberry Prison for the verdict.

Jennifer's parents, Andrew and Patricia Cardy, were in court to hear Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan throw out all grounds of appeal.

The judge said the approach taken at trial was, if anything, more beneficial to the killer.

"This was clearly relevant evidence to which the jury were entitled to attribute high probative value," he said.

Dealing with the issue of opportunity, Sir Declan detailed "a formidable case supporting the conclusion that the appellant was in Northern Ireland on the day of the abduction".

He held that the trial judge carefully review evidence of the so-called signature method deployed by Black.

"It is, however, important to remember that the prosecution case did not depend on the scientific evidence alone as there was also evidence of alleged admissions by way of the fantasy evidence," he added.

Sir Declan confirmed: "We do not consider that any of the grounds of appeal have been made out.

"We do not consider that the conviction is unsafe. The appeal is dismissed."

 

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