Patricia Cardy, whose daughter Jennifer was murdered by the serial killer Robert Black, has passed away peacefully in hospital. She was 73.
The Ballinderry woman, who had been battling ill health for some time, had been lovingly cared for at their Co Antrim home, by her husband Andy. He was by her bedside, holding her hand, when she died yesterday evening.
“It’s a great comfort to think that she is in Heaven with Jennifer,” said a heartbroken Andy today. “I always said that our daughter would be the first person that she would see there, that Jennifer would be the first person she would be looking for.”
The ordeal faced by the Cardys when nine-year-old Jennifer was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered by Black as she cycled to a friend’s house a short distance from where she lived, touched hearts across Northern Ireland and around the world.
The family – the couple also have sons, Mark and Phillip, and a daughter, Victoria – had to wait thirty years for justice, but in 2011 Black was finally found guilty of sexually assaulting and murdering Jennifer.
At the time he was already serving life having been convicted in 1994 of the rape and murder of schoolgirls Susan Maxwell (11), Caroline Hogg (5) and Sarah Harper (10) in the Borders, Edinburgh and Leeds. Black died, aged 68, in Maghaberry jail in 2016.
Mrs Cardy was a wheelchair user after losing a leg to diabetes. She also had rheumatoid arthritis and had suffered a stroke. For the past few months she had been largely bed-bound, but Mr Cardy said that she had never lost her characteristic determination to make the best of life.
Last year, she had published her powerful and moving memoir, There Came A Day, about the enduring heartache of losing Jennifer and how her deeply-held Christian faith had sustained her. It has since sold many thousands of copies.
“Since last November Pat had lost her total mobility and she was wrestling with quite a lot of pain. She spent around 23-hours a day in bed. And yet she was never negative, she was still as bright as a button.
“When her carers came in, they always had a laugh and a chat together. She would apologise to them for giving them bother and I’d hear them saying that it was a pleasure to care for her. That was the way of Pat, thinking of others, and her carers have been calling with me today to say how very sad they are. They were very good to her.”
Mr Cardy, who with his wife attended Hillsborough Elim Church, said that despite the challenges and grief they had faced, they had enjoyed “a blessed life”.
“Yes, there were problems but when you know the Lord, the problems are in his hands. He has set the course and He will help us finish the race.
“I shall miss her very much. She was such an inspiration to me. She was only admitted to hospital yesterday (Friday) and it was so strange returning to an empty home and going into the bedroom and seeing her wheelchair there. But Pat does not need that any more.”
Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised but Mrs Cardy will be laid to rest alongside her Jennifer in Portmore Cemetery in Lower Ballinderry.