Serial child killer Robert Black's body to be cremated
Serial child killer Robert Black looks set to be cremated and his ashes disposed of in unmarked grounds, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
A full week after the killer's death, his body remains unclaimed from the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
Following outrage over the possibility that Black could be buried in a pauper's grave in Lisburn, just a few miles from where he abducted and murdered little Jennifer Cardy, it is understood the prison authorities are planning a discreet cremation without any memorial service.
If nobody claims his cremated remains they could be scattered on an unmarked site. The Prison Service will pay the £595 fee.
This is the first time that the body of a prisoner who has died in custody has not been claimed from the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Since Black's death in Maghaberry Prison last week the authorities have been struggling to locate anyone willing to claim his body.
Scottish-born Black's single mum, Jesse Hunter Black, put him up for adoption when he was just weeks old in 1947.
He lived with foster parents in Kinlochleven, Argyll, but both died when he was 11 and he was placed in a children's homes in Falkirk in Scotland, then Musselburgh.
"The Prison Service wants this handled as discreetly as possible, given the sensitivities surrounding this case. For a week they have been trying to locate someone to take the body, but to no avail. So the plan is to cremate his body and the only place in Northern Ireland for cremation is Roselawn," a prison source said.
Arrangements for the cremation have yet to be finalised as the Prison Service is understood to still be hoping to track down someone to claim the body.
Maghaberry Prison is only a few miles from the family home of little Jennifer, who Black murdered in 1981.
There was outcry when it emerged that he could potentially be buried in a graveyard in Lisburn, the constituency within which he died.
DUP MLA Paul Givan said: "We do not want this man's body in Lisburn.
"The Cardy family are residents of Lisburn and the terrible murder took place in the area. The case also had an impact on the broader community.
"This is a serial child killer and given the sensitivities it would be wholly inappropriate for him to be buried here."
Lisburn councillor James Tinsley, who is chairman of the Council's corporate service's committee which deals with burials in the area, said: "I don't believe it is this council's responsibility. I would be completely opposed to the council getting involved in this in any way. It would be much too insensitive."
A spokesman for the Prison Service said last night: "In the event of a death in prison in Northern Ireland, and where no next of kin is identified, NIPS will make necessary funeral arrangements."
Black was first accused of rape aged 12. He then went on to abduct and murdered young girls while working as a delivery driver.
He was jailed in 1994 for the murders of Susan Maxwell (11) from Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland, in 1982; Caroline Hogg (5) from Edinburgh, in 1983 and Sarah Harper (10) from Morley, near Leeds, in 1986.
In 2011, he was also convicted of the murder of nine-year-old Jennifer in Ballinderry, Co Antrim, in 1981. He was also convicted of a failed abduction bid on Teresa Thornhill in Nottingham in 1988 when she was 15.
Following his death, detectives said they were days away from charging him with the abduction and murder of 13-year-old Genette Tate who went missing in Devon in 1978 and has never been found.
New information has also emerged that Black could have killed up to 15 more young girls, making him the UK's most prolific serial killer of children.