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 Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Izzy Lyons

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

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