Northern Ireland

Robert Black: Child killer's inquest begins in Armagh

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

The inquest has begun into the death of child killer Robert Black.

Black died, aged 68, in Maghaberry Prison in 2016.

He had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 for the murder of County Antrim schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy in 1981.

He was already serving life sentences for the murders of three other girls - Sarah Harper, 10, from Leeds; Susan Maxwell, 11, from Northumberland; and Caroline Hogg, five, from Edinburgh.

None of Black's family members could be traced by the Coroner's Service, so no relatives are in court in Armagh for the inquest, coroner Paddy McGurgan said.

For 51 years, Black regularly smoked 25g of hand-rolled tobacco, a doctor told his inquest.

GP Dr Joseph Palmer said that he was at risk of having a "cardiovascular event" like a stroke, heart attack or deep vein thrombosis.

"He also said that he was a smoker not interested in stopping smoking, [so] that risk would have increased," said Dr Palmer.

The doctor, who treated Black at Maghaberry Prison, said the tobacco use was likely to damage the patient's coronary artery.

He had also been diagnosed with type two diabetes, which increases the risk of a heart attack.

The doctor also said he did not exercise enough.

Dumped in dam

Black was a delivery driver with a long criminal record of sexually abusing young girls.

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

Image caption Jennifer Cardy's killing was the first murder Black was known to have carried out, but it was the last for which he was convicted

The nine-year-old victim, from Ballinderry in County Antrim, had been cycling to a friend's house near her home when Black abducted and sexually assaulted her, before dumping her body in a dam.

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

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