Northern Ireland

Cardy family 'do not hate' child killer Robert Black

The brother of Jennifer Cardy who was murdered by Robert Black in 1981 has said his family do not hate the killer.

The serial child killer was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison on Thursday.

"I guess as a family we pity him. I can't hate him and I don't know why. I've tried to muster up a hate, but I don't have it," said Phillip Cardy.

"We did pray for him and for his salvation. I wish he would have asked for forgiveness."

In October, 64-year-old Black was found guilty of snatching Jennifer as she cycled to a friend's house in Ballinderry, County Antrim, in 1981.

Jennifer was nine years old when she disappeared.

Black, originally from Grangemouth in Scotland, is serving life in prison for the murders of three other children.

In August 1981, Black was working as a delivery driver for a London-based poster company.

This role brought him to the Lisburn area on 12 August, the day Jennifer went missing.

Black was automatically given another life sentence when he was convicted of killing Jennifer and on Thursday the minimum tariff was set at 25 years.

Phillip, who was six when Jennifer disappeared, said his family had not let Black "destroy them".

"You can only forgive somebody once they ask for forgiveness and if he had done that we really would have forgiven him," he said.

"I'm very thankful that it's over, because it has been a nightmare and it is hard to be emotionally strong."

Phillip's sister Victoria was a baby when her sister went missing.

"Although I never knew Jennifer, I know what a hole it left in our family," she said.

Outside the court the murdered child's parents Andy and Pat said they were satisfied that, in real terms, Black would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"It has been an emotional couple of hours. It has been a long, long journey. It has been 30 years of a journey," Mr Cardy said.

"We are very, very pleased. We think that justice has been done. We don't think Robert Black will ever be out of jail again to assault little girls."

No mitigation

Mr and Mrs Cardy heard Mr Justice Weatherup tell Black he would be at least 89 before he would be considered for release.

"Your crime was particularly serious," he said.

"You subjected a vulnerable child to unpardonable terror and took away her life."

Earlier the court heard Black's own lawyer offer no plea for mercy.

David Spens QC told the judge: "This is one of those rare cases in which there is no mitigation and so I propose to say nothing in that regard."

Prosecution barrister Toby Hedworth QC had argued that Black should face a whole life term, given his other killings.

In November, Black's legal team said they would be appealing against his conviction for kidnapping and murdering the County Antrim schoolgirl.

Black is already serving multiple life sentences in Wakefield prison in England.

Jennifer's murder was the fourth for which he has been convicted.

In 1994, he was found guilty of three unsolved 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.

Detectives in Devon are reviewing the evidence against Black in connection with the disappearance of another schoolgirl, Genette Tate.

The 13-year-old went missing while doing her paper round in a Devon village on 19 August 1978.

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