Northern Ireland

Robert Black death: Jennifer Cardy's parents 'prayed for murderer'

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Media captionThe parents of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy give their reaction to the death of her murderer, Robert Black.

The parents of one of the victims of serial child killer Robert Black have said they prayed for the murderer and took no pleasure in his prison death.

Jennifer Cardy, from Northern Ireland, was one of four young girls murdered by Black, who died in jail on Tuesday.

The nine-year-old was abducted, assaulted and killed near her home in Ballinderry, County Antrim.

Police in England are "devastated" that Black died before he could be charged with another girl's murder.

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Media captionPolice say they are "devastated" child killer Robert Black died before he could be charged with the murder of a 13-year-old Devon schoolgirl

The Devon and Cornwall force said it was five weeks from submitting a file to prosecutors on Black linking him to the 1978 killing of Genette Tate.

She vanished while delivering newspapers in Aylesbeare, east Devon, in 1978. Her body has never been found.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Cardy's parents, Pat and Andy, spoke of how their Christian faith had influenced their attitude to Black.

Mrs Cardy said she wished she could have met Black before his death as she believed he may have been responsible for other unsolved child murders.

Image caption Robert Black died aged 68 in Maghaberry prison in County Antrim while serving life sentences for murder

"Had I been able to talk, just as a woman to a man, and ask him where did he throw or fling or put the bodies of many more little girls that he killed," she said.

"That hasn't been proved, I know that, but there are many children's murders, little girls' murders with his hallmark."

The Cardy family were informed by police on Tuesday evening that 68-year-old Black had died at Maghaberry high-security prison in County Antrim.

It is believed he died of natural causes.

Image caption Robert Black was convicted of murdering (clockwise from top left) Jennifer Cardy, Sarah Harper, Susan Maxwell and Caroline Hogg

Black had a history of abducting, abusing and murdering young girls.

In addition to his four murder convictions for killing Jennifer Cardy, Sarah Harper, Susan Maxwell and Caroline Hogg, Black had also been convicted of other attempted abductions and was suspected of other unsolved crimes against children.

Jennifer was nine in August 1981 when Black kidnapped and killed her close to her home in Ballinderry, County Antrim.

BBC NI reporter Gordon Adair's Cardy trial memories:

Rarely, if ever, have I seen an outpouring of emotion like that triggered when the jury foreman at Armagh Crown Court uttered the single word 'guilty' in 2011. Thirty years after her death, justice had finally caught up with Jennifer Cardy's killer.

Jennifer's family, jurors, journalists, and even detectives wept. The only person who showed no emotion was Robert Black.

He sat - as he had done throughout the trial - gazing towards the front of the court. No matter how horrific or distressing the evidence had been, he demonstrated not a single flicker of concern; not for Jennifer, not for her family.

Black never accepted his guilt, never showed any remorse, never apologised. At his sentencing, his barrister took the unusual step of standing up, saying: "I intend to say nothing in mitigation" and sitting back down.

Looking back now on Black's life there is, again, little to be said in mitigation.

Mrs Cardy told BBC News NI that she feels no bitterness towards her daughter's murderer and would have liked to have spoken to him before his death in jail in a bid to change his "wasted" life, that was full of "depravity".

Image caption Jennifer Cardy was abducted while she cycled to a friend's house near her County Antrim home in 1981

"As Christians, Robert Black could have had what I have and what Andrew has, and our whole family - that is just the beautiful peace of God," she said.

"I have actually prayed for Robert Black that he could come to this and therefore, his life that produced no good could now begin to change. I would have loved that for Robert Black."

Mr Cardy said: "I've often said that he stole the life from our daughter but we would not allow him to steal our lives. We were determined to live on and live on for the family that we had, but the hurt is still there.

"We miss Jennifer but we have to move on, we have to keep going."

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