Northern Ireland

Robert Black: No relatives of serial killer come forward

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

No family members of child killer Robert Black have come forward to take part in his inquest, despite a six month search by the Coroners Service.

Black, who was from Grangemouth in Scotland, was convicted of four child murders, but is suspected of more.

He died of heart disease in Northern Ireland's Maghaberry Prison in 2016.

Black was serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy, from Ballinderry, County Antrim.

In January, Coroner Patrick McGurgan said "all efforts need to be made to trace the next of kin".

He said they should be offered the opportunity to give evidence.

On Friday, a preliminary hearing heard that none have yet been found.

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

The paedophile, who was 68 at the time of his death, was a delivery driver who stalked the roads of the UK searching for victims.

Black was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea after prison authorities in Northern Ireland revealed no-one wanted his remains.

The killer was caught in 1990 by police with a barely alive six-year-old girl hooded, bound, gagged and stuffed in a sleeping bag in the back of his van in the Scottish village of Stow.

He had sexually assaulted her moments earlier.

Once in custody, he was linked to a series of unsolved crimes in the previous decade.

In 1994, Black was found guilty of three 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, as well as a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988.

He was found guilty of Jennifer Cardy's murder in 2011.

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

The killer was put up to be fostered within weeks of his birth in 1947.

A couple from Kinlochleven in the West Highlands who took him in both died within 11 years and Black spent the rest of his childhood in residential homes in Falkirk and Edinburgh.

The full inquest into Black's death is scheduled to start on the week commencing Monday 3 December in Armagh.

Another preliminary hearing will take place on Friday 14 September.

More on this story