This morning at Armagh Crown Court in Northern Ireland, already convicted serial killer Robert Black, was found guilty of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering 9-year old Jennifer Cardy back in August 1981. Black has previously been convicted of three other similar crimes.
Jennifer Cardy was Black's first victim. On August 12 1981 Jennifer was on her bicycle on her way to meet her friend. She had left her house in Ballinderry in County Antrim. She never met her friend. Her bicycle was found near her home and her disappearance launched a massive hunt to find her. Locals, police and soldiers searched for her. Six days after she disappeared Jennifer's body was found in an area called McKee's Dam, near Hillsborough in County Antrim.
Her murder remained unsolved for nearly 30 years. Black became a suspect and police launched a lengthy investigation which saw them search through half a million fuel receipts. It worked, they were able to place Black in the area at the time Jennifer disappeared. On 16 December 2009, Black was charged with Jennifer Cardy's murder.
After Black's conviction Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray of the Police Service of Northern Ireland spoke to journalists.
The family of Jennifer Cardy also gave their reaction and spoke of their life for the last 30 years.
Just under a year after he abducted and killed Jennifer Cardy, Black kidnapped 11-year old Susan Maxwell. On July 30 1982 Susan had left her home in Cornhill on Tweed, a village on the English side of the Scottish/English border. She was heading across the River Tweed to play tennis in Coldstream, a village on the Scottish side of the border. She never made it. Black kidnapped, raped and strangled her before taking her body 250 miles south and dumping it at the side of the A518 road near Uttoxeter in England.
On the evening of July 8 1983, 5-year old Caroline Hogg was playing in a play park near her home in Portobello, Edinburgh. Caroline had only gone outside to play for a little while. She never returned home. Witnesses say that a young girl, they believed to be Caroline, was watched, as she played, by a scruffy man, and later seen holding his hand in a local amusement arcade. Black kidnapped Caroline and 10 days later her clothes-less body was found 300 miles from her home in a ditch in Leicestershire.
Three years later 10-year old Sarah Harper left her home in Morley, Leeds to go to a local shop to buy bread. Sarah never returned. Last seen making her way towards a known short cut home, Sarah was kidnapped by Black. He raped and murdered her before dumping her body. Sarah's body was found a month later in the River Trent near Nottingham in England.
Police forces investigating the murders began to link them when it was noted that the bodies of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper were all found within 26 miles of each other.
In 1988 Black tried to abduct a 15-year old girl by dragging her into his van. The girl shouted and screamed and fought him off, her calls brought a friend to the scene and she got away from him, Black left the scene.
Robert Black was born in Grangemouth, Scotland, on April 21 1947. He was fostered out by his mother and brought up by foster parents. He had difficulty fitting in at school and was often bullied. When he was 11 his foster mother died and he was sent to a children's home in Falkirk.
He had a reputation for being aggressive. When he was 12 he attempted the rape of a girl in a field, he was moved to a home in Musselburgh where he, himself, was sexually abused by a male member of staff.
At the age of seventeen, Black was convicted after he took a 7-year old girl into a deserted building, strangled her to the point where she lost consciousness and then masturbated over her body. His conviction was of lewd and libidinous behaviour and he received no real punishment.
Over the next couple of years he molested a 9-year old girl and a 7-year old girl. The molestation of the latter was reported to police and Black was sentenced to a year in Polmont borstal (youth prison which was meant to reform young delinquents, they were found throughout the country).
He found work as a van driver and this took him around the country.
He was caught on July 14 1990 in Stow in the Scottish borders region. Police stopped his van after a member of the public had seen him snatch a 6-year old girl from the street. The girl was discovered bound and gagged in the back of the van. She had been sexually assaulted.
Black was convicted a month later and sentenced to life in prison.
Black became a suspect in the kidnapping and murders of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper and a suspect in the attempted abduction of the 15-year old girl in 1988. Thorough investigations by the police involved led to a court case and in May 1994 Black was found guilty on all counts and given a minimum sentence of 35 years.