Robert Black an evil too dark to comprehend
There has been scarcely a day during the past 34 years when Andrew and Patricia Cardy have not thought about Robert Black, the man who killed their daughter Jennifer. Today they know he is beyond reach of any mortal judgment and unable to repeat his vile offences after his death in prison.
It is impossible for anyone who has not suffered the loss that befell the Cardy family to comprehend what they have gone through since 1981 when Black abducted and killed Jennifer as she was out riding her bike.
They had to fight hard to secure the conviction of the serial killer. Jennifer was his first known victim but the last one for which he was found guilty in 2011.
He was a man who showed not the slightest remorse for his crimes, and even his defence lawyer unusually could offer no mitigation at his trial.
What the Cardy family and the relatives of the other young girls he murdered must often wonder is how did he get away with his crimes for so long? Anyone who has read even the sketchiest details of his life story would quickly realise that he was a person with an unhealthy interest in young girls, and he was well-known to police in various parts of the UK for his offences.
Andrew and Patricia, too, must wonder what sort of life Jennifer, who would now have been in her early 40s, would have had. Would she have married and had children of her own rather than being frozen in time as the nine-year-old with the red bicycle, the enduring image that always accompanies any report of her death?
The one thing that has sustained Andrew and Patricia is their faith. They are confident that they will be reunited with their daughter in Heaven and that Black, unless he repented, will suffer eternal damnation.
But it is telling that Andrew never saw Black's conviction and jailing as a victory for the family. Rather it was simply an assurance that other little girls would be safe from the paedophile.
And Andrew's assertion that crimes like those committed by Black should put capital punishment on the agenda for debate in these islands will find a resonance with a significant number of people.
Perhaps Andrew and Patricia can find some closure, yet it is clear from the way they have articulated their anguish over the years that it will remain with them until they too die.