A JURY has been told for the first time that a van driver accused of child murder is the convicted killer of a Northumberland schoolgirl.
Predatory paedophile Robert Black’s criminal past was revealed in Armagh Crown Court in Northern Ireland yesterday.
He was unmasked as the court heard the 64-year-old Scot has already been convicted of murdering three young girls, abducting a fourth and attempting to snatch another.
Black is now accused of kidnapping and murdering nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in Northern Ireland 30 years ago.
On July 30 1982, schoolgirl Susan Maxwell, 11, from the village of Cornhill-on-Tweed, in Northumberland, left her home to play a game of tennis across the Scottish border in Coldstream.
Several local witnesses remembered seeing her until she crossed the bridge over the River Tweed – the last time she was seen alive.
At some point between the river and Coldstream, Susan was abducted by Black.
He raped and strangled her and dumped her body by the side of a road near Uttoxeter, about 250 miles away in the Midlands.
At a trial in Newcastle in 1994, Black was convicted of murdering three girls – Susan, Caroline Hogg, aged five, and 10-year-old Sarah Harper – the abduction of a six-year-old girl and the attempted abduction of a 15-year-old girl. He was jailed for life.
Black is now on trial for abducting and killing Jennifer Cardy, who disappeared as she cycled to a friend’s house in the quiet County Antrim village of Ballinderry, in August 1981.
Her body was found six days later floating in a dam 10 miles away near Hillsborough, County Down. She had been sexually assaulted.
Legal reasons had prevented the killer’s criminal record being disclosed to the jury during the first eight days of the high profile trial.
But that changed during a dramatic day in court in Armagh as Crown lawyer Toby Hedworth QC outlined in graphic detail exactly what the man sitting in the dock had been found guilty of.
With Black listening to proceedings with the aid of a special hearing device, Mr Hedworth revealed his earlier crimes. He said his past crimes did not in themselves make Black guilty of Jennifer’s murder but claimed the striking similarities between the cases would prove it.
He told the jury: “What you certainly must not do is say ‘well, he’s done those other ones, he’s a thoroughly bad man so we’ll find him guilty in this case as well’.
“What you have to do is look at what he has been proved to have done in respect of those other girls and see whether it assists you in deciding whether you can be sure that it was Robert Black rather than some other individual who abducted and killed Jennifer Cardy.”
The London-based delivery driver remained at large until 1990 when he was arrested near Stow in Scotland with a six-year-old girl gagged, bound and stuffed head first into a sleeping bag in the back of his van.
Caught red-handed, his first words to police, chillingly, were “what a day it’s been”, the court heard.
Black denies murdering Jennifer and the trial continues.