Abducted girl found by father in van: Terrified six-year-old bound and gagged with Elastoplast

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The Independent Online
A six-year-old girl had a look of 'absolute terror' on her face when she was found by her father with Elastoplast taped across her mouth and her hands bound by black cord behind her back, a murder trial was told yesterday.

The girl, who cannot be identified under a court ruling, was kidnapped outside her home in the Scottish borders in July 1990 by Robert Black, 47, now on trial at Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court for kidnapping and murdering three young girls in the 1980s.

The jury of six men and six women has already been told that Black has admitted the abduction. He faces 10 charges relating to the kidnapping and murders of Susan Maxwell, 11, Caroline Hogg, 5, and Sarah Harper, 10.

The girls were abducted from near their homes between 1982 and 1986 and their bodies later found in what became known as the Midlands murder triangle. Black denies all the charges.

Yesterday the jury was given graphic details for the first time about the abduction of the six-year- old girl and her rescue.

The evidence about the kidnapping was read to the court by John Milford QC and the identity of the person who discovered the girl cannot, for legal reasons, be made known publicly. Mr Milford said that on Saturday 14 July 1990, a police patrol responded to a 999 call made by a woman in a Scottish borders village saying that her daughter had been abducted.

The police patrol officers did eventually spot a blue Transit van. At first there was no sign of the girl in the van but then a sleeping bag was seen moving.

A frantic effort was made, the statement said, to open the sleeping bag.

The father of the girl - who then discovered the girl - said in a statement to the police: 'First of all I saw the girl's bare feet and legs. I opened the bag to find the girl red in the face. There was a look of absolute terror on her face.'

The girl had been gagged with two strips of Elastoplast and her hands tied tightly behind her back with two pieces of black cord, held up yesterday in front of the jury. The girl's mother then came to the van and tore the strips from her mouth.

The girl was said to be afraid to sleep alone at night after the incident.

In a separate statement to the court, Dr Norman Wallace said that when he examined the girl she had given him a remarkably clear description of what had happened to her.

He found residue from the tapes still round her mouth, her neck was sore and both her wrists where she had been tied had lines of bruising. She also had abrasions on her leg and what appeared to be a thumbprint mark on her right knee.

Sergeant William Ormiston, of the Lothian and Borders police force, told the court that he had spoken to Black in an unmarked police car after his arrest and he had said: 'What a day it has been. It should have happened on Friday the 13th . . . It was a rush of blood. I have always liked young girls, since I was a kid.'

Sgt Ormiston went on to say that Black had told him he intended taking the girl to Blackpool to spend some time with her and he would then have 'let her go'.

The jury were told yesterday by Supt Peter Herwood of Staffordshire police that the Midlands triangle murders, as they became known, led to a 'mammoth inquiry' with about 57,000 people giving information and thousands of vehicles being checked.

The trial continues today when the Crown's case will end.