Robert Black was Britain’s most prolific child killer, says policeman who investigated him: Paedophile now linked to 19 murders over two decades
- Prolific child killer Robert Black has died in prison of natural causes
- Black was found guilty in 1994 of three schoolgirl murders in the 1980s
- In 2013 he was convicted of the murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy
- But he has long been linked to dozens of other suspicious disappearances
- He was due to be charged with murder of Genette Tate in just a few weeks
Keiligh Baker for MailOnline Published: 13 January 2016
Prolific child killer Robert Black may have killed up to 15 more young girls than the four he was convicted for murdering in the 1980s, making him Britain’s most prolific .
The news comes as a former policeman who investigated him made shocking new revelations about Black, 68, who died in his cell at Maghaberry high security jail in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
Black was serving 12 life sentences for the murder of four schoolgirls but died just weeks before he was to be charged over the murder of a fifth victim, 13-year-old schoolgirl Genette Tate in 1978.
Now, a retired policeman has revealed an informant who knew Black claimed he ‘revealed information only a guilty man could have known’ about a number of other child murders.
If he is proven to be responsible for all the murders he is linked to, he would have killed more children than Moors murderers Fred and Rose West, Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield, and even Thomas Hamilton, responsible for killing 13 in the Dunblane school massacre.
As a delivery van driver who travelled across Britain and Europe between 1972 and 1990 Black had dozens of opportunities to target children and he has long been suspected of committing at least 18 murders.
He was due to be charged with the murder of Genette Tate, who vanished in a country lane close to her Devon home in 1978, in coming weeks but died before he could be brought to trial.
The newspaper delivery girl vanished from a rural lane in Aylesbeare in August 1978. Her body has never been found.
Detective Superintendent Paul Burgan, of Devon and Cornwall Police, confirmed yesterday that Black was ‘weeks’ away from being charged with her murder.
Now, Chris Clark, a former intelligence officer with Norfolk police who worked on dozens of missing child cases, has told the Mirror he believes Black was Britain’s most prolific child killer, responsible for at least a dozen other murders.
His informant, a man named John, said he would drink with Black when he lived in Stoke Newington, in London and told Mr Clark he was horrified when Black recited a list of ‘eight or nine names’ – including child victims of unsolved murders and high-profile missing children.
Among the names he listed was April Fabb, a 13-year-old schoolgirl who went missing near her home on April 8, 1969, as she cycled to her sister’s house to give her brother-in-law a birthday present of a packet of cigarettes.
Her bike was discovered abandoned but her body was never found. Black was questioned about her disappearance but always refused to co-operate with police.
The informant also said Black even told him about missing children Suzanne Lawrence, 14, from Essex, who has been missing since 1979; Christine Markham, nine, who disappeared on her way to school in Scunthorpe in 1973; The disappearance of six-year-old Mary Boyle, in Cashelard, Ireland, who vanished from her grandparents farm in County Donegal in 1977; and Pamela Hastie, 16, whose body was found mutilated on Guy Fawkes night in November 1981 in Johnstone, Renfrewshire.
Mr Clark told The Mirror: ‘The evidence is compelling. In my opinion Black was the only real suspect in these cases and more.
‘His psychopathic tendencies were constant, he was every parent’s worst nightmare and his lust for killing was endless.’
Mr Clark believes he has discovered new evidence over his five years of research which identifies Black as the murderer behind the deaths of at last six young girls in Germany, France and Holland.
He thinks Black is responsible for the murder of 10-year-old Silke Garben in June 1985 in the garrison town of Detmold in Germany – he had been delivering posters to a nearby British army base at the time of her appearance.
When her body was found days later police discovered she had been sexually assaulted, strangled and dumped by the side of a road.
He also believes Black was behind the abduction and murder of seven-year-old Cheryl Morrien in August 1986, the same year he killed Sarah Harper.
Meanwhile police in France have long suspected Black as the prime suspect in a series of murders in the outskirts of Paris in 1987.
Virginie Delmas, 10, was abducted and murdered in May that year. Her body was later found in an orchard in south-east Paris. Just two weeks later the body of Hemma Greedharry, 11, was found. The following month later nine-year-old Sabine Dumont, aged nine, was found dead in a ditch.
Shortly after those deaths the body of Perrine Vigneron, seven, was found by the side of the road. She had been abducted and murdered while out buying a Mother’s Day card.
Mr Clark said: ‘There is no doubt in my mind that Black was responsible for these murders – the killings bore all the hall marks of his modus operandi and he was in the country at the time.’
Black has also been linked to the murders of three more British girls, who died between 1981 and 1984, according to an investigation by The Sun.
Patsy Morris, 14, went missing from her school in Feltham, London, in 1980, and her body was found two days laer in Hounslow Heath. There was no sign of sexual assault but the murder has been linked to Black, who was living in London at the time, but also Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield.
Black was also linked to the death of Tracey Walters, 11, who was never seen again after going missing from a youth Valentine’s day event in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, on February 14 1983. She was found strangled to death in the back garden of her home and police believe that the killer was disturbed before he could sexually assault her.
The killer has also been linked to the death of Lisa Hession, 14, who went missing from Leigh, greater Manchester, in December, 1984, and was found dead just 500 metres from her door as she walked home from a party. No one has ever been charged with her murder.
Yesterday Detective Superintendent Paul Burgan, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said of Genette’s murder: ‘We were in the process of submitting a full evidence file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which would have been submitted in February of this year.
‘In earlier indications, the CPS has said that in all probability, we would have charged Robert Black with Genette’s abduction and murder.
‘We were waiting for a final charging decision from them when the file went to them.’
Mr Burgan said that he expected the charging decision from the CPS to come in ‘weeks rather than months’.
The force will still submit the file to the CPS for a charging decision for Genette’s family, he added.
Following the revelation Genette’s mother Sheila, from Bristol, said: ‘I hoped that one day Robert Black might talk, though what the incentive would be I didn’t know and deep down in my heart I felt that he wouldn’t.
‘It doesn’t matter to me that he’s not going to be charged with the kidnap and murder of Genette, I don’t feel robbed of justice because it would have been an empty charge.
‘We still wouldn’t have known what happened or where she is. It wouldn’t have answered any of our questions or given me any comfort to just give him another life sentence added to those he was already serving.
‘So, an evil man has died and I’m not sorry about that. I reflect on what an utter waste of life that he’s lived and the misery he has caused to so many families.
‘I am sorry for us, I’m sorry for them, but not for him.’
Pictured: The search for Genette in 1978. Volunteers beat through the bracken on Woodbury Common
Genette’s father told ITV News that he feels he will never be able to properly grieve for his daughter after Black died without ever revealing his involvement in her disappearance.
John Tate said: ‘It’s hard to grieve because there’s a tiny little bit of me that hopes she’s alive somewhere. I basically hoped that we were going to find out what actually happened to her and to rule out once and for all that she is alive somewhere.
Mr Tate also revealed that he had attempted to visit the serial child killer in prison to ‘try and find out what he did with her’.
He said: ‘I campaigned to try and see him. All I wanted to do was to try and talk to him and find out what he did with her.
‘Then perhaps we could come to an end of it all, finding her body and giving her a funeral.
‘I never got an opportunity – he wouldn’t see me and we dropped it in the end. I’ve written lots of letter to him as well but never got anything from him.’
Black’s reign of terror was finally ended in 1990 when he was caught red-handed by police with a barely alive six-year-old girl hooded, bound, gagged and stuffed in a sleeping bag in the back of his van in the Scottish village of Stow.
He had sexually assaulted her moments earlier.
Once in custody detectives were able to link the predator to a series of unsolved crimes in the previous decade.
In 1994, Black was found guilty of three child murders in the 1980s – those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds – as well as a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988.
In 2011, he was found guilty of the 1981 murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy, from Ballinderry, Co Antrim.
There was new hope of a prosecution for Genette’s murder after Black lost an appeal against his conviction for Jennifer’s murder.
‘The appeal court ruling was a game changer for us,’ Mr Burgan said. ‘The court of appeal ruled that Black’s offending was so unique that bad character evidence could be used to identify the offender at the scene.
‘That enabled us to reinvestigate Genette’s murder in 2014.’
Black first became a suspect in Genette’s murder in 1994 and was initially interviewed by Devon and Cornwall Police about it in 1996.
In 2002, a large scale investigation took place and was linked with one the Police Service of Northern Ireland were conducting into Jennifer’s murder.
Following the Court of Appeal decision in 2013, Devon and Cornwall Police launched a reinvestigation into Genette’s murder. Officers have since identified potential witnesses in the case.
‘We were hopeful we would have had a final decision by April,’ Mr Burgan said. ‘Mid to late February was our time and date for submitting the file.
‘It has come as a complete shock. Black was 68 years of age. He wasn’t in the best of health but there was nothing to suggest that he was poorly.
‘We had a provision in place with the prison in Northern Ireland that if he was badly ill we had officers that would have gone and spoken to him regarding Genette’s disappearance.
‘From what we can ascertain he has just collapsed in prison.’
Mr Burgan said Genette’s family were ‘devastated’ with Black’s death, and said he himself was ‘hugely disappointed’.
‘Robert Black was ultimately an aggressive, predatory paedophile,’ Mr Burgan added. ‘He was every parent’s worse nightmare. He was a danger to children.
‘Robert Black did kill on a number of occasions around the country and we would attest that Genette was one victim in that reign of terror he committed from 1978 until his arrest in 1990.’
Only Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley – whose five victims were aged ten to 17 – killed more children than Black in modern British criminal history.
Thomas Hamilton killed 16 in the 1996 Dunblane massacre but is not considered a serial killer as this happened in one brutal day.
As many as 40 cases were examined by police in the 1990s but 13 killings are understood to remain potentially linked to Black, including the Tate case.
A source close to the investigation said Black’s death was a ‘cruel blow’ for the Tate family as police had expected to charge him with her murder. Detectives have spent months preparing a case for the Crown Prosecution Service.
No trace of the newspaper delivery girl, 13, has ever been found. All that remained were her bike and scattered papers in the lane.
Scottish-born Black never spoke about the killings but after his arrest, he admitted his depravity, telling police: ‘I’ve always liked young girls since I was a young kid.’
Police abroad have looked at links between Black and the killings of four girls near Paris in 1987 and a girl, seven, in Amsterdam in 1986.
SORDID CHILD KILLER ROBERT BLACK TAKES SECRETS TO THE GRAVE
Robert Black, one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers, has gone to the grave carrying many untold secrets from his murderous past.
Convicted of four child murders and range of other sex crimes, the delivery driver who stalked the roads of Britain and Ireland for his young victims has long been suspected of involvement in other unsolved disappearances.
He was born in 1947 near Falkirk in Scotland to single mother Jesse Hunter Black. The factory worker put her son up to be fostered within weeks.
The couple that took him in – the Tulips – were in their 50s and lived in Kinlochleven in the West Highlands.
Within 11 years both had died, and Black was placed in a children’s home back in Falkirk.
He claimed his desire to self-abuse and his fascination with young girls had already developed well before then.
In Falkirk his proclivity for sexual violence emerged when, as a 12-year-old, he was accused of trying to rape a young girl. No charges came of it, but Black was moved to an all-boys’ home in Musselburgh as a result.
In that institution he claimed he was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a male staff member.
When in Musselburgh he would walk the short distance to Portobello to swim and work as a lifeguard at the coastal resort’s swimming pools.
Black, pictured in 2010, after being found guilty of the murder of schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy at Armagh Court
Twenty years later one of his victims, Caroline Hogg, would disappear close to those same pools.
When he turned 15, Black left the home in Musselburgh and moved west again, to Greenock, outside Glasgow.
A year later, in 1963, he faced the courts for the first time after molesting a seven-year-old girl in an abandoned air raid shelter.
He had lured her from a swing park with the promise of showing her a box of kittens. Instead he choked her to within an inch of her life and then violated her. He left her in the darkness, lying unconscious.
Yet he was not incarcerated for the crime, receiving only a caution for lewd and libidinous behaviour.
Black relocated back to Falkirk where he started dating his one and only girlfriend. They stayed together for a while and Black even asked her to marry him. She said no, and the relationship ended acrimoniously.
He harboured immense bitterness over the rejection from then on.
Three years after attacking the girl in Greenock, and now working as a builder back in Kinlochleven, he was not so lucky with authorities after being reported for abusing the daughter of a couple he was lodging with.
In 1967 he was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and sent to borstal in Polmont, outside Falkirk, for a year.
Black moved to London on his release and soon became immersed in the sordid world of under-the-counter child pornography.
Again he found work as a swimming pool attendant, where he could earn money while spying on young girls in their costumes.
Swimsuits were one of the paedophile’s particular fetishes and behind the locked door of his rented room in north London he would squeeze himself into young girls’ costumes and act out sordid sex acts.
A one-piece suit found in his van when he was finally captured in Stow in 1990 was sized to fit ages eight to 10.
In the 1970s, his lust for hard-core child porn took him on shopping trips to Copenhagen and then to Amsterdam.
Around this time he also obtained his driving licence, enabling him to secure a job with a London-based delivery firm in 1976.
In retrospect, this job turned out to be his means to facilitate his murderous reign. Delivering posters throughout the UK for more than a decade, he was able to roam the country as an anonymous van driver.
The back of his van became a lair where he would abuse himself and his victims with a vile stash of crudely-fashioned instruments.
A delivery run took him past Coldstream in 1982 when he snatched Susan Maxwell, then back to Portobello a year later when he stole Caroline Hogg from the promenade, and through Leeds in 1986 when he abducted Sarah Harper.
Robert Black would probably never have set foot in Northern Ireland in August 1981 if he had not been sent there to deliver posters for the start of new beer and cigarette campaigns.
It was there, on a rural road in Co Antrim, he snatched nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy as she cycled to a friend’s house.
After being caught red-handed in Stow, with a barely conscious victim hooded and gagged in the back of his Ford Transit, he insisted that was his only ‘slip’ – the only time he ever kidnapped a young girl in his van.
Of course, that was a lie. Four murder convictions followed.
Detectives across the country have spent the last 25 years trying to find firm evidence to link Black to other unexplained disappearances.
Police investigating the case of missing 13-year-old Genette Tate, who was last seen in a rural lane in Aylesbeare, Devon, in 1978, perhaps came closest to bringing another murder charge.
Black died in jail, but many families will feel he never faced full justice.
BLACK WAS CONVICTED OF THE MURDER OF FOUR SCHOOLGIRLS IN 1980s
1981 – Jennifer Cardy
The nine-year-old schoolgirl was snatched as she cycled to a friend’s house in the quiet Co Antrim village of Ballinderry on August 12 1981. Her body was found six days later in a dam behind a roadside lay-by 15 miles away at Hillsborough, Co Down.
Black was in Northern Ireland to deliver posters for the start of a new beer and cigarette campaign.
Detectives trawled 560,000 old fuel receipts in a bid to nail Black, and eventually they found the one that proved crucial. The receipt from a Coventry service station proved that Black, who scrawled his name on the paper, was driving south to London the day after the murder in August 1981 in a van primarily used to deliver posters in Northern Ireland.
1982 – Susan Maxwell
The 11-year-old schoolgirl lived on her family’s farm near the village of Cornhill-on-Tweed on the English side of the Scottish border. On Friday July 30 she arranged to play tennis with a friend two miles away, just over the border in the town of Coldstream.
She got a lift there and had persuaded her mother Liz to let her walk back – the first time she had done so on her own. Her game finished at 4pm and Susan was seen crossing the bridge back into England over the River Tweed on her way home. But she vanished.
Two weeks later, her body was found 264 miles away lying a ditch at a roadside lay-by just outside Uttoxeter in the Midlands.
Work records showed that Black had been travelling between Edinburgh and Newcastle on the day Susan vanished and that he would usually return to London through the Midlands, where he would visit a friend. The friend lived in Donisthorpe – 20 miles from the lay-by where Susan was found.
A then 62-year-old Black makes a court appearance during the murder trial of Jennifer Cardy
1983 – Caroline Hogg
Five-year-old Caroline, from Portobello near Edinburgh, had spent most of Friday July 8 1983 at a friend’s birthday party. She wore a princess dress – one she loved so much that her parents let her keep it on for the rest of the day.
That evening back at her home on Beach Lane, she was allowed out to play for five minutes in the school grounds opposite her house. Her mother went to call her in after about half an hour, but there was no reply.
It emerged that a boy had spotted Caroline in the play park she was not allowed to go to. She was on the swings. The child also noticed a ‘scruffy looking man’ sitting on the promenade watching her play.
Another child had seen her walking towards the town’s funfair, Fun City, hand-in-hand with an unknown man. Ten days later, again in the English Midlands, Caroline’s badly-decomposed body was found. The dead child was completely naked – again suggesting a sexual motive.
It later emerged that Black, who used to swim in Portobello as a teenager, had been back in the town the day Caroline disappeared, making a delivery.
1986 – Sarah Harper
Ten-year-old Sarah lived in the working class area of Morley in greater Leeds. On the evening of Wednesday March 26, during her Easter holidays from school, she was sent on an errand to the corner shop by her mother.
The shopkeeper remembered her calling in, buying a loaf of bread for her mum and two packets of crisps. She was last seen heading down a short alleyway on her way home. Then, nothing.
Three and a half weeks later, a man walking his dog along the River Trent at Wilford, near Nottingham, saw something floating in the water. He was shocked to realise it was a body – Sarah’s.
A post-mortem examination revealed she had been subjected to a violent sexual assault. The cause of death was drowning, with tests suggesting she was still alive when she was dumped in the river, albeit possibly unconscious.
Black made a delivery in Morley on the evening Sarah disappeared. A return trip to London via the River Trent would have seen him take the same exit off the M1 motorway he used when visiting his friend in Donisthorpe. Source dailymail
Andy Gardner / 29th June 2014
A new witness says Black revealed information only a guilty man could have known.
Serial killer Black, 67, is serving life for the kidnap and murder of four girls between 1981 and 1986.
He is also suspected of unsolved child murders in the UK dating back to 1969.
The witness, who drank with Black before he was arrested, has spoken to retired Norfolk detective Chris Clark.
Mr Clark is an expert in cold case reviews and has worked on missing child cases.
“It is significant because Black talks openly about missing children and unsolved child murders”
The informant, named John, said Black reeled off a list of “eight or nine” names, including children listed as missing at the time and unsolved murders.
Police are still considering whether to charge Black over the case.
April Fabb, 13, from Norfolk, also disappeared while cycling in April 1969. Her bike was found abandoned. Black has been questioned about April but has denied being involved.
Mr Clark said: “The information I have been given is compelling and detailed. It is significant because Black talks openly about missing children and unsolved child murders. He refers to cases not widely known about and not considered abductions at the time. Black names children now considered to have been kidnapped and murdered.”
Mr Clark, 68, gathered the testimony after being contacted by the man called John who knew Black in 1983.
John, now in his 70s, worked for British Rail and drank in the Red Lion pub in Stoke Newington, north London, where Black was also a regular.
He claims he struck up a conversation with the Scots-born driver and referred to Susan Maxwell, who was 11 when she was abducted, raped and strangled on the Scottish border in July 1982.
Mr Clark said: “John told me he mentioned Susan to Black as he was Scottish born” He said to Black ‘It’s terrible what happened to that poor girl in Scotland’. Black replied ‘Yes but it’s equally terrible what happened to the others’ and reeled off a list of names.’
John, who wants to remain anonymous, recalls other names mentioned by Black. They included Mary Boyle, who disappeared, aged six, in Cashelard, Ireland, 37 years ago. Black is known to have regularly travelled to Ireland
Black, who is in Wakefield jail, West Yorks, also spoke to John about missing children whose plight never made headline news, including Suzanne Lawrence, 14, of Harold Hill, Essex, who has been missing since 1979.
Another was Christine Markham, nine, who disappeared on her way to school in Scunthorpe in 1973.
Mr Clark said: “Clearly, Black knew a lot about the cases when others did not.”
He has put together a dossier of evidence and passed the information about Genette Tate to Devon and Cornwall police.
A detective on the cold case team has spoken to him. The former intelligence officer said: “I believe Black was SDHp responsible for some or all of these murders.” source