Robert Black was already serving life for the murder of three girls, now we know he took another young life.
Jennifer Cardy vanished in Ballinderry in August 1981 after riding on her new bike to visit a friend. Her body was eventually found floating in a dam. As Black was found guilty, Jennifer’s parents broke down, but later said they pray for the man who stole their little girl.
“Jennifer had a lovely thoughtfulness beyond her nine years – I’ll never forget her, she’ll always be remembered and always missed,” her mother Pat told Channel 4 News.
Her father Andrew said: “All of a sudden we’re confronted with awfulness of those hours and what she had to suffer and that has been truly awful.”
Black abducted Jennifer Cardy in the van he drove all around the UK – delivering posters. Years later, a laborious search of fuel receipts proved Black had filled up in Coventry, in a van normally used for deliveries to Northern Ireland.
He admitted to the police he was there and that he fantasised about abducting girls.
But there was no forensic evidence and it took police nearly ten years to build their case.
“It wasn’t DNA, it wasn’t fingerprints at the end of the day – it was about telling a very very compelling story and convincing a jury that this was how it was,” DCI Raymond Murray told me.
The jury were convinced Jennifer Cardy’s murder bore the signature of Robert Black’s other crimes. In 1982 He grabbed 11-year-old Susan Maxwell near her home in the Scottish borders and killed her.
A year later, he murdered five-year-old Caroline Hogg from Edinburgh.
In 1986 he raped and murdered 10-year-old Sarah Harper from West Yorkshire, snatching her as she went to buy a loaf of bread.
Black was not stopped for almost a decade until 1990, when he was caught in Scotland, with a six-year-old girl in his van. She was barely alive – he had gagged her, and stuffed her inside a sleeping bag.
Detectives say they are “sure” Robert Black has more terrible secrets, but only he can reveal what they are, and so far he has not said anything.