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Jennifer Cardy murder trial hears grisly history of accused killer


Summary of story from the Belfast Telegraph, October 8, 2011

The jury at the trial of murdered schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy, who was killed 30 years ago in Northern Ireland, has heard the dark history of the man accused of murdering her.

The previous convictions of Robert Black, who stands accused of the murder and kidnap of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in 1981, were revealed to the jury at Armagh Crown Court yesterday.

Crown prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC informed the court that the 64-year-old has previously been convicted of murdering three girls and kidnapping another in the 1980s.

Black’s crimes caught up with him in 1990 when he was arrested with a six-year-old girl gagged, bound and stuffed into a sleeping bag in the back of his van, the jury was told. He pleaded guilty to her abduction.

Black, a van driver, is accused of murdering Jennifer whilst making a delivery in Northern Ireland on August 12, 1981.

Jennifer was abducted as she cycled to a friend’s house close to her home in Ballinderry, County Antrim. Her body was found six days later, floating in water at McKee’s Dam 10 miles away. She had been sexually assaulted.

For legal reasons, Black’s criminal record could not be disclosed during the first eight days of his trial, but the crown prosecutor told the jury yesterday: “The stage in the trial proceedings has been reached when I can tell you.”

He added that Black is “one of those exceptionally rare individuals who target girls of a particular age to steal them away from the roadside in a vehicle for sexual purposes, and then dispose of their bodies when he has no further use for them”.

Hedworth 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.”

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