Genette Tate father's plea to meet child killer

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Media captionJohn Tate told BBC Inside Out South West he wants answers soon

The father of Genette Tate, who went missing 33 years ago, has asked to meet a convicted child killer who is a suspect in the case.

Thirteen-year-old Genette went missing while doing her paper round in a Devon village on 19 August, 1978.

Her bicycle and scattered newspapers were found in a lane in Aylesbeare a few minutes after she had been talking with friends.

About 7,000 volunteers joined police to search a village common, while ponds and wells within a 15-mile radius were dredged. But her body was never found.

Genette's father John now hopes a man who has been convicted of his fourth child murder will provide answers.

Robert Black, 64, was convicted last week of murdering Jennifer Cardy, aged nine, in Ballinderry, County Antrim, 30 years ago.

Devon and Cornwall Police have questioned Black several times over Genette's disappearance, but he has denied any involvement.

The force said it would "review the evidence" presented to Black's trial at Armagh Crown Court to see if it would help its investigation into the disappearance of Genette.

Over the years, Genette's father John has appealed to Black to confess if he did indeed murder the teenager.

Last August, Mr Tate wrote to the Scotsman in prison, asking to meet him, but has still not received a response.

Image caption Genette Tate's body has never been found

Mr Tate wrote: "Dear Robert Black, would you make the necessary arrangements for me to be able to visit you. I'd like to come and talk to you."

Mr Tate, who has cancer, told BBC Inside Out South West he wants answers soon.

He said: "It's because I think I haven't got long to go. And I'd like to get this out of the way before I die."

Mr Tate said: "I'd ask him did you do it?

"Did you kill Genette and if so, please can you put us out of our misery and tell us what happened and where? That's what I want to do.

"And if he hasn't done it, let's know so we can continue searching for whoever did do it."

For years Mr Tate, who now lives in Manchester, visited Aylesbeare on the anniversary of his daughter's disappearance.

He lays flowers at a memorial stone for Genette set up in the village churchyard.

Image caption Robert Black has been convicted of killing four children

The words on the stone say: "Genette Louise Tate. Who disappeared from this village, August 19th 1978. Aged 13 years. Never Forgotten. Always Loved. May she someday be returned to this place to rest in peace."

Mr Tate said he often had "questions going on in my head" about Genette's disappearance and would like closure.

Mr Tate said: "I basically would like to put her body to rest."

He said visiting the memorial stone provided some solace.

"It's basically to have a place to be quiet and think," he said. "That's what I use it for anyway, somewhere to come to and just think in the village. Just be at peace."

Det Sgt Jane Williams, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "Initially it was always considered that Genette had been abducted but, as the years have gone on, both Genette's family and ourselves have had to accept that Genette has probably been murdered."

Joint inquiry

The force has been try to crack the case since 1978 and still has hundreds of files relating to it, including 20,000 filed cards, crammed into a room at its Exeter headquarters.

Officers travelled to Yorkshire in 1996 and 1998 to question Black in prison where he was jailed for the murders of three young girls.

Image caption A memorial stone marks Genette's disappearance

In 2003, detectives went to Belfast to discuss similarities between Genette's disappearance and the murder of Jennifer Cardy.

The two forces began working together and both interviewed Black.

Jennifer Cardy's family faced the horror of her murder, three years after Genette's disappearance.

Jennifer had gone out on her new red bicycle to visit a friend on 12 August, 1981. But she never arrived and her bike was found in a field. Her body was later found dumped in a reservoir.

Police in Devon sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which in 2008 said it would not charge Black because of insufficient evidence.

The following year Black was charged with murdering Jennifer Cardy and last week her family finally saw a conviction. But the wait for justice for Genette continues.

BBC Inside Out South West will be broadcast on Monday 31st October at 19:30 GMT.

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