Belfast Telegraph

Robert Black main suspect as cold case cops probe mystery of missing Donegal girl Mary Boyle

Robert Black in 2003
Robert Black in 2003
Mary Boyle disappeared in 1977
Jennifer Cardy
Notorious serial child killer Robert Black

By Catherine Devine

A fresh investigation into the disappearance of a six-year-old girl from Donegal will be launched with all evidence and suspects to be re-examined.

The Irish Daily Star reported that senior Garda officers have confirmed that the cold case unit of the force is launching a new investigation into the mystery surrounding the disappearance on Mary Boyle.

Serial child-killer Robert Black has long been considered the prime suspect in the Boyle disappearance.

Black died in Maghaberry in January of this year where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of Ballinderry schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy.

Detective Superintendent Walter O'Sullivan said the investigation will be launched in the next few weeks and will last up to six months.

"The first thing that will happen is that the team will go to Donegal (where Mary disappeared) to get a feel for the area," a source told the newspaper.

The source also revealed that the detectives would draw up a list of all serving and retired gardai who investigated Mary's disappearance in 1977.

The source said that the new cold case team would have no pre-conceived ideas of who was or wasn't a suspect and that all evidence would be followed.

At the end of the new investigation a report with the findings will be given to Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

After a documentary into the investigation earlier this month called Mary Boyle: The Untold Story, there were claims of political interference by two former officers involved in the case.

Retired sergeant Martin Collins claimed a political figure rang Garda at the height of the probe and said: "The gist was that none of a particular family should be made suspect for Mary's interference."

Former detective Aidan Murray told the documentary he believed he was close to getting a suspect to confess to murdering Mary but was told to "ease-off" on the suspect by a senior officer.

Mary's twin sister Ann said she believed that Mary was being sexually abused and was killed to cover "the secret". The six-year-old had been at her grandparents' house in Cashelard, a remote and boggy townland outside Ballyshannon, where the extended family had lunch.

Her uncle, Gerry Gallagher, was the last person to see her alive after she walked back to her grandparent's house but never made it there.

Garda, family and scores of neighbours scoured the 450-yard stretch of land between the only two houses in the area in a search that escalated over the following weeks into a trawl of bog holes, lakes, streams and the countryside beyond. Not a trace of Mary was ever found.

The main suspect in the case still remains Scottish serial killer Black, who began attacking young girls when still in his teens and went on to become the worst paedophile and child killer in British history.

One of his victims was nine-year-old Jennifer, who he killed in August 1981.

Her body was found in an old flax dam six days after she disappeared from her home in Ballinderry.

Police established that Black regularly travelled to Northern Ireland and the Republic as part of his job as a delivery driver.

Jennifer had been sexually assaulted and an attempt was made to burn her remains prior to being dumped in the dam.

It would take nearly 30 years and advances in DNA science to finally link Black to her murder. He was sentenced to a minimum 25 years imprisonment at Armagh Crown Court in October 2011.

The PSNI investigation into Jennifer's murder drew Black into the investigation into the disappearance of Mary.

Garda discovered that Black was a reasonably regular visitor to Donegal, delivering commercial posters, and may have visited and stayed in Annagry, not far from the Boyle home at Kincasslagh on the coast.

Belfast Telegraph


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