We’ve been forgotten, say parents of child murderer Black’s ‘fifth victim’
Family not told about serial killer’s inquest 40 years after disappearance of their daughter
THE parents of a schoolgirl believed to have been murdered by serial killer Robert Black 40 years ago have said they “feel forgotten about” after authorities failed to tell them his inquest will take place this week.
John Tate and Sheila Cook, parents of Genette Tate, who went missing aged 13 in August 1978 while doing a paper round in Devon, have said they will “never get closure” over her disappearance.
Police identified Robert Black, a serial killer known to have murdered four girls between 1981 and 1986, as their prime suspect in Genette’s murder. They were weeks away from charging him in January 2016 when he died reportedly from “natural causes” in a prison in Northern Ireland.
But Mr Tate and Mrs Cook, who have since separated, were only made aware that the inquest into Black’s death was taking place when The Sunday Telegraph made contact with them.
The inquest will start tomorrow at Armagh Court House, Northern Ireland, shortly after a jury is sworn in.
Mr Tate, 76, said he “had a right to know” the inquest was taking place, adding: “I was not told about it. It’s frustrating and annoying and makes me feel forgotten about. I don’t know really how to put it into words.
“I think the police should have kept us informed. We didn’t know anything about this to do with Robert Black’s inquest. It was a big surprise.
“I don’t think closure comes into it at all. We are never going to get closure. We always think about her every day of the week, it never goes away. I still have photographs in the house and they will remain there for the rest of my life.”
Mr Tate, who lives in Manchester and relies heavily on carers after suffering two strokes, said he would have liked to have attended the inquest, but would now struggle given the short notice and his immobility.
“If a way was found, I would buck up the strength and go. I will probably suffer for it in the end, but I would really like to know what it’s all about”, he said.
Mrs Cook, who has since remarried and lives in Bristol, said: “I’m afraid I wasn’t aware the inquest was immi- nent. I haven’t heard anything from Devon and Cornwall police since they effectively closed the case about 18 months ago.
“Black’s death and its cause is somewhat tangential to Genette’s fate but I think it is right that the correct processes are followed. After all, he did die very suddenly and unexpectedly.”
Black, who was 68 at the time of his death and originally from Stirlingshire, Scotland, was serving four life sentences when he was due to be charged with the murder of Genette, whose body has never been found.
In April 2016, three months after Black died in Maghaberry high security prison, police closed their investigation into Genette’s disappearance. A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We have worked closely with the family of Genette over the years including during the investiga- tion and subsequent appeals. We have since been in touch with Genette’s parents and we will ensure that both are aware of the current coronial investigation being conducted, the details of the inquest, and that specialist support is offered if needed.
“We have been clear that Black was our only designated suspect and we approached the CPS with a recommendation to charge.”
A spokesman for the Office of the Lord Chief Justice in Northern Ireland said that the coroner’s service will only ever notify “properly interested persons”, adding: “The coroner in this case did not consider the family members of the victims or alleged victims of Robert Black to be in this category.” Jennifer, 9, was the first of Black’s young victims when she went missing on Aug 12 1981, although he was only found guilty of her murder in 2011. She was Susan Claire Maxwell was Black’s second victim, killed when she was just 11. Black abducted her on July 30 1982 near the Scottish border as she walked home from playing tennis. Her body Five-year-old Caroline, from Edinburgh, was Black’s youngest known victim.
He abducted her from outside her Edinburgh home on July 8 1983. Police believe she was Sarah, 10, was sent by her mother to buy bread at a corner shop in Leeds on March 26 1986. More than three weeks later, her body was found in the Trent near Nottingham. She had been sexually last seen cycling to a friend’s house in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. She never arrived and six days later she was found sexually assaulted and drowned in a reservoir.
‘I don’t think closure comes into it at all. We are never going to get closure. We always think about her every day’
was found in a lay-by near Uttoxeter, 260 miles away. It is understood that Black kept her dead body in his vehicle for a day. in the back of Black’s van for 24 hours before he dumped her naked body 310 miles away. assaulted. Black was found guilty of murdering Sarah, Caroline and Susan in 1994.
Serial child killer Robert Black, above left, died before he could be charged over Genette Tate, above right; left, Sheila Cook with her current husband Bob in 2003