Found guilty after 30 years

A convicted child killer has been found guilty of murdering a nine-year-old County Antrim girl 30 years ago.

Jennifer Cardy was abducted from the roadside near her Ballinderry home on August 12, 1981. During the trial it emerged that 64-year-old Robert Black, who was found guilty of the murder, is a predatory pedophile who is serving life in prison for the murders of three children.

The case was notable in that it marked the first time that a defendant's past criminal record had been presented in court. The jury was told about Black's past crimes.

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When sentenced, Black, who is from Scotland, showed no emotion.

Speaking in Armagh Crown Court, Judge Mr. Justice Ronald Weatherup told Black: "You have been convicted by a jury of murder. There is only one sentence that will be imposed by law. That's the sentence of life imprisonment. Accordingly, I sentence you to life imprisonment."

He then turned to the court officers and said: "Take him down please."

Outside the court, Jennifer's father Andrew said the trial had been an awful experience for the family.

"For the last six weeks we have had to endure and listen to how Robert Black kidnapped, sexually abused and murdered our daughter," he said.

"It has been absolutely horrendous. We heard things that, in all honesty, were not even in our imagination.

"We were confronted with the awfulness of her last few hours and what she had to suffer and it has been truly awful."

Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, who led the police investigation into Jennifer's murder, said his thoughts were with the Cardy family.

"None of us can imagine what they have suffered over the past 30 years or, more recently, during the past weeks of this trial when the horrific events of August 1981 were re-visited," he said.

The court heard that Jennifer had left her home in Ballinderry to cycle a short distance away to meet a friend. Her red bicycle, which had been a birthday present two weeks earlier, was later found thrown over a hedge close to her home.

Her body was found at McKee's Dam near Hillsborough, six days after she disappeared.

Back in 1981, Black was working as a delivery driver and had used his job to strike in England, Scotland and Ireland.