No fam­ily found for in­quest into se­rial killer Robert Black

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By DAVID YOUNG

A fail­ure to trace any rel­a­tives of child se­rial killer Robert Black may see his in­quest pro­ceed with­out fam­ily participation, a coroner has said.

Nine months of ef­forts by the Coroner Ser­vice for North­ern Ire­land to find re­la­tions of the late Scot­tish pae­dophile have come to noth­ing, cor­ner Pa­trick Mcgurgan was told yes­ter­day.

Black, who was con­victed of four child mur­ders but sus­pected of many more, died of heart dis­ease in a North­ern Ire­land prison in 2016 aged 68.

The loner pae­dophile, from Grange­mouth near Falkirk, was a de­liv­ery driver who stalked the roads of the UK.

Black was cre­mated and his ashes were scat­tered at sea af­ter prison au­thor­i­ties in North­ern Ire­land re­vealed no-one wanted his re­mains. An in­quest is be­ing held into his death to find out if there were any is­sues with the med­i­cal care he re­ceived while in­car­cer­ated. At a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing in Belfast, a lawyer for the Coroners Ser­vice up­dated Mr Mcgurgan on ef­forts to find any re­la­tions to par­tic­i­pate in the in­quest.

“They can’t be traced,” the lawyer said. “There’s not much more that can be done it seems.”

It was ini­tially be­lieved some of Black’s re­la­tions might live in North­ern Ire­land.

Not­ing pre­vi­ous me­dia cov­er­age of ef­forts to lo­cate the fam­ily mem­bers, the coroner said is­su­ing a for­mal pub­lic ap­peal could be an op­tion.

But he added: “Are we con­tent that we could pro­ceed in the ab­sence of next of kin? It’s not un­heard of.”

One of the lawyers agreed such a move was not with­out prece­dent. Mr Mcgurgan said the ab­sence of a re­la­tion at the full hear­ing in De­cem­ber might make it dif­fi­cult to of­fi­cially record some per­sonal de­tails about Black.

The killer’s long reign of ter­ror was ended in 1990 when he was caught red-handed by po­lice with a barely alive sixyear-old girl hooded, bound, gagged and stuffed in a sleep­ing bag in the back of his van in the Scot­tish vil­lage of Stow.

In 1994, Black was found guilty of three child mur­ders in the 1980s, those of 11-yearold Su­san Maxwell, from the Scot­tish Bor­ders, five-yearold Caro­line Hogg, from Ed­in­burgh, and Sarah Harper, ten, from Mor­ley near Leeds, as well as a failed ab­duc­tion bid in Not­ting­ham in 1988.

In 2011, he was found guilty of the 1981 mur­der of nine-yearold Jen­nifer Cardy, from Ballinderry in county Antrim.

news­deskts@scots­man.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.