UK News Detective who netted Scottish child serial killer Robert Black after 'painstaking' probe into abductions and murders of 3 young girls has died

12:35  08 april  2021
12:35  08 april  2021 Source:   edinburghnews.scotsman.com

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A depraved child serial killer has died in jail – weeks before he was expected to be charged with the murder of a fifth schoolgirl. Robert Black – serving 12 life sentences for murdering four girls in the 1980s – died of natural causes in prison in Northern Ireland. I would have liked to have seen Black go on trial charged with Genette’s kidnap and murder but now that has been denied us. This is a major blow to our hopes of trying to discover the truth.’ Scottish -born Black never spoke about the killings but after his arrest, he admitted his depravity, telling police: ‘I’ve always liked young girls since I was a

Prolific child killer Robert Black has died in prison of natural causes. He also believes Black was behind the abduction and murder of seven-year-old Cheryl Morrien in August Serial killer Robert Black , 68, of Grangemouth, Falkirk, who abducted and abused young girls from Scottish -born Black never spoke about the killings but after his arrest, he admitted his depravity, telling police: 'I've

Hector Clark oversaw the joint murder enquiry following the death of five-year-old Caroline Hogg, who was abducted from Portobello Promenade near her home on the evening of July 8, 1983. Her body was found ten days later in a ditch in Leicestershire, 300 miles away, with the news sending shockwaves across Edinburgh.

a group of people sitting next to a man in a suit and tie © Hector Clark (right) with Detective Chief Superintendent Brian Cunningham during a press briefing in...

Detectives believed the killer was linked to the murder of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from Cornhill-on-Tweed in northern England, who had left home in June 1982 to play tennis just across the border in Coldstream before she disappeared. Her raped and strangled body was later found 250 miles away by the side of the A518 road in Staffordshire.

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Robert Black - who died in prison in January - was believed to have murdered 13-year-old Genette Tate in Devon in 1978. Police submitted a file of evidence against him to the Crown Prosecution Service after they found new witnesses. 19 August 1978: Genette Tate disappears from Aylesbeare, near Exeter, Devon, while delivering newspapers. Thousands of people turned out to search the countryside for her. 1994: Robert Black given 10 life sentences for the abduction and murder of three young girls .

Serial child killer Robert Black has been sentenced to a further 25 years behind bars for the murder of a schoolgirl 30 years ago, his fourth conviction for killing a little girl . The notorious paedophile, already serving prison terms for the slaughter of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah The jury were not told about the other girls whose lives Black may have cruelly taken during two decades in which he criss-crossed the British Isles and Europe delivering posters in his van. A white Datsun van similar to the one used by the serial killer , who abducted and murdered nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy.

The killer struck again In 1986, when ten-year-old Sarah Harper was abducted after she went to a shop to buy bread near her home in Morley, Leeds. Her body was later found dumped in the River Trent near Nottingham a month later. She had been raped and murdered.

a person posing for the camera © Caroline Hogg.

In 1990, police finally got their break when Robert Black, a delivery driver for a London-based poster company, was caught abducting a six-year-old girl in the village of Stow in the Borders.

It was extremely fortunate that a retired sub-postmaster, David Herkes, had been out mowing his lawn when he saw a little girl’s legs disappearing off the ground behind a van before the door banged shut and the vehicle was driven quickly away. Police were alerted and, chillingly, the officer who tracked down Black in his van discovered that the girl bound and gagged inside it was his own daughter.

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Child rapist Robert Black was convicted of murdering four young girls and police believe he killed many more, including 13-year-old Genette Tate. Chilling audio reveals how he would have killed the teenager, who was snatched while delivering papers in Aylesbeare, Devon, in 1978. Chilling interviews from sex offender counselling sessions with Robert Black reveal how the killer used the promise of kittens to lure children . Though Black was the prime suspect in the case, he died of a heart attack before police could charge him with the murder , but hinted his victims numbered as many as

Evidence 'linking serial killer Robert Black to murder of Genette Tate' sent to CPS. Earlier this year, police said Black was likely to have been charged with Genette's abduction and murder . Black first became a suspect in Genette's murder in 1994 and was interviewed by Devon and Cornwall Police in 1996. PA. Black died serving multiple life sentences for the murders of four schoolgirls and other crimes.

a group of people standing in front of a bus © The detectives at Portobello's Fun City amusement arcade, where Caroline was last seen alive. Pic: B...

There was no forensic or direct evidence linking Black to the murders but Hector, who had been assistant chief constable of Northumbria police before moving into the role of deputy chief constable for Lothian and Borders police in 1984, sensed this was their man and oversaw teams across five police forces amass a huge quantity of circumstantial evidence which eventually netted him.

Under Hector’s leadership, police trawled through about half a million petrol receipts, expenses and delivery schedules held by Black’s employer which placed him at or near the area of his three victims when they disappeared and to where their bodies were found.

Tom Wood, former deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders police who worked under Hector on the investigation, said his former boss died in a care home near Whitley Bay on Monday, April 5 following a recent battle with illness.

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Robert Black , who was found guilty yesterday of murdering a fourth schoolgirl, has been linked with another 12 unsolved child killings in Britain, Ireland and the Continent. The 64-year-old is already serving ten life sentences for the murders of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg, five, and Black ’s appalling catalogue of crime leaves little room for doubt as to what would have happened had it not been for that stroke of luck. Hector Clark, the senior detective probing three similar killings of schoolgirls snatched off the street at random, had a gut feeling the arrested man was the serial killer

Black was convicted of murdering four children during the 1980s and was suspected of other killings. His last conviction came in 2011 when he was given another life sentence for the 1981 abduction and murder of Jennifer Cardy. He snatched the nine-year-old as she cycled to a friend's house in Prosecutors at his last trial pushed for the Scottish -born killer to get a whole-life term but the judge gave him another life sentence with a minimum of 25 years. A NI Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The Prison Service has confirmed that a 68-year-old prisoner has died at Maghaberry Prison.

Mr Wood recalled: “What Hector Clark and his team did, painstakingly, was build a circumstantial case which proved compelling in court, but the complexity of that period is difficult to overstate as it’s very difficult to convict.

a close up of a man with a beard looking at the camera © Child killer Robert Black at Peterhead prison in May 1994. Pic: Allan Milligan

“It was like an enormous jigsaw puzzle but carefully picked through and assembled. When you think about a case like this it’s like a fine weave net of strands but together they paint this picture of this man’s movements. They put together an enormously complex circumstantial case.

“It really did take someone special to coordinate it all.”

‘Great leadership’

Mr Wood said his former boss, who was a Newcastle Utd fan but later grew fond of Hearts when he moved to Edinburgh, was a hugely experienced detective who had supervised or investigated more than 70 murders at Northumbria police.

He also said Hector “pioneered” the use of new computer systems to effectively manage serious crime cases, and was mindful of the debacle which led to Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe falling through the police’s net on several occasions before he was eventually convicted for murdering 13 women between 1975 and 1980. The Ripper incident room at Millgarth police station used a card index system which was overwhelmed with information and not property cross-referenced, leading to evidence against Sutcliffe getting lost.

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a group of people sitting at a table © Then Assistant Chief Constable of Northumbria police, Hector Clark (right and wearing dark suit), an...

Mr Wood continued: “Hector was incredibly persuasive and got partner police forces to contribute and come together.

“He had great leadership and took a personal approach. He never wrote a letter or made a phone call where he could meet a person face to face. He was very good at delegating and had confidence in people.

“Hector did an excellent job of managing that case through its dark times. There were long periods of time where there was no progress, and there was tremendous pressure.

“He was incredibly sharp witted. He was very good at observing, he was shrewd and was a good communicator and was made to be a detective. He was a natural.”

In 1994 Robert Black, originally from Grangemouth, was convicted of the murders of Susan, Caroline and Sarah and of attempting to abduct 15-year-old Teresa Thornhill in Nottingham in April 1988. He was jailed for life with a minimum of 35 years.

In Scotland, the Crown Office had declined to prosecute due to lack of evidence but the case was heard at the Old Moot Court Room in Newcastle, with Justice Sir William Macpherson presiding.

In 2011, Black was also convicted of the murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in 1981 in Country Antrim in Northern Ireland - his first known killing. The child had taken her bike to visit a friend when she was abducted. Her body was found six days later and she had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

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Black had been living in London and working as a delivery driver and this gave him the opportunity to carry out his crimes. He criss-crossed the Scotland and England border and was regularly in Ireland - and at times his job also took him to Europe. His name has also been linked to four murders in France and five in Holland.

The vile predator had been serving 13 life sentences when he died in prison in 2016 at the age of 68.


In the late 1980s, Lothian and Borders chief constable Sir William Sutherland discussed with Hector Clark the need to investigate claims a so-called ‘magic circle’ of judges, sheriffs and advocates was conspiring to ensure homosexual criminals were given soft-touch treatment by the courts.

Rumours that senior judges were being blackmailed because they were gay were ultimately found to be fanciful, and claims of corruption were rejected as the ravings of conspiracy theorists.

The initial police investigation into the claims was led by Detective Inspector Roger Orr, who also worked with Hector in the Robert Black case.

The detective’s final report was supposed to be for chief constable Sir William Sutherland - but it was stolen from the Police HQ at Fettes after an intruder managed to slip into the building through an open window in July 1992. This was dubbed the ‘Fettesgate scandal.’

The thief, it turned out, was a gay criminal and police informant called Derek Donaldson, who gave stories from the confidential report to national newspaper journalists. He was assured immunity from prosecution in return for handing back the files.

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The report concluded there was evidence to support claims that justice was being seriously subverted by a “well-established circle of homosexuals” and listed five court cases where the outcome caused concern among officers and lawyers.

It had been prepared in response to a letter from former long-serving Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell, who wrote to chief constable Sutherland to raise what he believed to be genuine public concern about a series of Crown Office decisions on cases investigated by the force.

Following the theft of the documents, the Crown Office later appointed a highly-regarded QC, William Nimmo Smith, and a regional procurator fiscal, James Friel, to investigate.

When Nimmo Smith's report was finally published in January 1993, it dismissed the idea of a "magic circle" of gay lawyers.

The 101-page report concluded there was no evidence to support the idea of a conspiracy to undermine justice, but strongly criticised a number of police officers.

Some had been "prepared to give as much credence to rumour as to actual evidence and to believe in conspiracy theories whether or not supported by evidence", it said.

Other officers, it suggested, had been motivated by homophobia.

Lothian and Borders police established formal links with a series of gay community groups for the first time in its history in the wake of the controversy.

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