Northern Ireland

Robert Black: PSNI interviews give insight into child killer's mind

Robert Black Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Robert Black was a delivery driver who had a history of abducting and murdering young girls

"There's nothing more heart-warming than a kid throw its arms round you and giving you a hug, it's a lovely feeling."

Chilling words from one of Britain's most notorious serial child killers, Robert Black, who died last month.

His voice was recorded by police as they questioned him about the 1981 murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy.

BBC NI's Spotlight programme obtained copies of the audio recordings and will broadcast them on Tuesday evening.

'Wrong'

Extracts of the Scottish-born murderer's interviews, conducted by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detectives, will form part of Spotlight's one-hour special report into the life of the child killer.

In one exchange, Black told the police: "I'm not exactly proud of the way I feel towards young girls."

He added: "There's a part of me that knows I'm wrong, that knows it's wrong, that I shouldn't be doing things like that, I shouldn't even be thinking things like that.

"But there's the other part that says 'you like it, go on'."

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Media captionBBC's Spotlight programme obtained copies of child killer Robert Black's audio recorded interviews with PSNI detectives

Black died in Northern Ireland's Maghaberry Prison last month, where he was serving a total of five life sentences.

He was an opportunistic predator who drove all around the United Kingdom in his delivery van snatching young girls off the streets, mainly in the 8-12 age group.

He then dumped the bodies of those he killed hundreds of miles away.

Criss-crossing police boundaries in his delivery van helped him evade detectives for 20 years.

Even though he was given life sentences for killing three girls in England and Scotland - 10-year-old Sarah Harper, five-year-old Caroline Hogg and 11-year-old Susan Maxwell - Black gave nothing away to police.

But that changed when he was questioned in 2005 by PSNI officers about the murder of County Antrim schoolgirl, Jennifer Cardy.

He began to open up when he came face to face with Det Con Pamela Simpson.

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

She told Spotlight: "I think everyone was surprised at that because nobody knew before we went into the interviews whether he was even going to talk at all and for some unknown reason he felt comfortable talking to myself."

Black began to speak about his sexual fantasies, encouraged by Det Con Simpson in the hope he might incriminate himself.

What became apparent was that Black's fantasies were in fact reality.

'Said too much'

Psychiatrist Dr Richard Badcock studied Black in prison. He advised the PSNI about how to question Black and he listened in on the interviews.

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

"It was clear that although the questions were about his fantasies, which he was happy to talk about, what he was actually talking about were his exact decision-making processes during actual offences," Dr Badcock said.

Black was questioned for three days and Det Con Simpson said it was evident during the final hours of interview that Black realised he had incriminated himself.

"The head went down, he lost eye contact with us and at the very end of the interview whenever the tapes were off, he knew at that stage that he had said too much," she said.

Image caption Police investigating Jennifer's disappearance staged a reconstruction in 1981 in a bid to trace her last movements

During the interviews, Black described a road in one of his fantasies - but the detectives soon realised it was the very road where Jennifer Cardy had been abducted in 1981.

'Evil'

Listening to the recorded interviews during the 2011 trial that led to Black's conviction was not easy for the Cardy family. It was a harrowing experience, they said.

But with no forensic evidence or eye witnesses against Black, the police recordings were vital in securing a conviction that provided justice for Jennifer's family who were aware of the content of the Spotlight programme.

During an interview for Spotlight, Jennifer's father Andy Cardy gave this opinion of his daughter's killer: "I think Robert Black was most definitely not mad.

"He was most definitely evil and he had went down the road of evil, and just gathered evil as he went along."

Black died as he lived - alone.

Image caption Black died in Magheraberry Prison last year

There were no mourners for his cremation at Roselawn Cemetery in Belfast outside normal hours.

His ashes were scattered at sea, "without ceremony, beyond these shores".

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