Genette Tate murder file against Robert Black submitted to CPS

Genette Tate
Image caption The Genette Tate case is believed to be Britain's longest running missing person inquiry

A file of evidence against a man suspected of murdering a schoolgirl almost 40 years ago has been submitted to prosecutors, the BBC has learnt.

Robert Black - who died in prison in January - killed four young girls and was believed to have murdered 13-year-old Genette Tate in Devon in 1978.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the file runs to "scores of pages".

But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Black would not be charged following his death.

Genette's body has not been found since she vanished while delivering evening newspapers in Aylesbeare, near Exeter.

Her case is believed to be the longest running missing person inquiry in Britain.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Robert Black was convicted of the murders of four other children in the 1980s

Black, originally from Grangemouth in east Stirlingshire, was first convicted of sexual assault when he was a teenager.

The delivery driver's murder victims came from Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.

He was convicted for killing Jennifer Cardy, nine, of County Antrim in 1981, Susan Maxwell, 11, of Northumberland in 1982, and Caroline Hogg, five, of Edinburgh in 1983 and Sarah Harper, 10, of Leeds, in 1986.

Black died of natural causes in Maghaberry prison, Northern Ireland.

The CPS told BBC News it would not make decision regarding charging Black because it does not charge dead suspects.

Before the decision a senior Devon and Cornwall Police source told the BBC: "We would like a clear statement that it [Crown Prosecution Service] would have charged Black with Genette's murder.

"It's the closest we can now get to justice and might offer some comfort to her family and the community."

The new file is the result of two years of work by a dedicated group of eight detectives - including some who worked on the original inquiry - from the force's Major Crime Team.

Before the CPS' decision, John Tate, Genette's father, said: "It's a shame this file was not submitted earlier to the CPS.

"There was some talk of it being submitted last autumn, then the CPS would have had several months to decide whether to prosecute Black.

"That would have meant that Black would have died in January knowing that he was going to put on trial for Genette's murder."

The Genette Tate case

  • 19 August 1978: Genette Tate disappears from Aylesbeare, near Exeter, Devon, while delivering newspapers. Thousands of people turned out to search the countryside for her
  • 1994: Robert Black given 10 life sentences for the abduction and murder of three young girls
  • 1998: Black first interviewed in connection with Genette Tate case, but denies involvement
  • 2002: New hope after Genette's DNA was found on one of her jumpers which would allow her body to be identified quickly if discovered
  • 2005: Devon and Cornwall Police interview Black again and send a file to the CPS
  • 2008: The CPS decides there is insufficient evidence to charge Black
  • 2011: Black convicted of a fourth child killing
  • 2014: Police ask prosecutors to look at bringing charges against Black

Image caption Genette Tate's body has never been found but her family have a memorial stone for her

The BBC has been told the detectives found two new witnesses following a re-investigation of the case, including an examination of the thousands of files from the original investigation.

They have been re-interviewed at length, senior police sources said, and have "strengthened the circumstantial case against Black".

The witnesses' evidence "concerns Black's behaviour" at the time she disappeared, the sources added.

Black, who was serving a life sentence for the murders of four children, was arrested and questioned in 2005 over the Genette Tate case, but not charged.

The force sent a file to the CPS, but three years later it decided there was insufficient evidence to charge Black.

He denied any involvement in Genette's disappearance.

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