Police in Black case to meet over killings: Girls' cases to be re-examined after murderer's conviction

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The Independent Online
THE SIX police forces involved in the case of the multiple child killer Robert Black are to meet in Edinburgh next month to discuss investigating further unsolved disappearances and murders of young girls.

Although a formal review of all the outstanding cases in England, Northern Ireland, France, and possibly Holland, is still some way off, a senior officer closely associated with the case may be appointed to re-examine the other killings. Black, a van driver, was found guilty on Thursday of murdering three girls in the 1980s.

Yesterday, the incident room set up to handle the 22 tons of evidence gathered during the Black inquiry was formally closed and the senior officers involved in the investigation were given two weeks' leave.

So far, Black, 47, has refused to talk about the kidnapping and murder of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper, or the broader range of killings and disappearances.

But police believe he felt there was a certain inevitability about his eventual capture. They now hope that because he realises he will never be released, Black may decide to tell them how many other children he has killed. If he does not, there is very little police can do to prove he is the killer of other children.

In certain cases, such as the disappearance of Genette Tate, who vanished from a country lane near to her home in Aylesbeare, Devon, in August, 1978, Black was said to be in the vicinity.

The petrol receipts, food bills and cash withdrawals from banks that Detective Chief Inspector Roger Orr used to prove that Black was in the areas of abduction, give some clues to his whereabouts on other occasions, but questions remain over whether they are sufficient to mount a further prosecution.

In any event, it is highly unlikely that Black will ever face trial on any of the other cases.

A long inquiry into other killings would essentially be to clear the files and satisfy the emotional needs of relatives of the dead children. About 12 other cases show signs of a link with Black.

During long conversations over a four-year period since his arrest with Ray Wyre, a psychiatrist and independent sex crime consultant, Black has discussed many aspects of his problematic life.

In one conversation, reported in the Scotsman yesterday he said: 'I don't look at it so much as a crime but more of a sickness . . . If you were a Catholic priest and I was the most devout Catholic that ever lived I still could not tell you that I did it.' Black asked Mr Wyre: 'Am I mad or am I evil?'

Although Black discussed the Genette Tate case, he made no firm admissions.

Black is likely to serve his sentence at Peterhead prison where he was held following his conviction for the abduction and assault of a six-year-old girl in the Scottish borders. He will rejoin about 200 others, nearly all sex offenders, in Britain's most northerly prison on Scotland's east coast.

The jail once housed Scotland's most violent prisoners but it now carries out pioneering work with sex offenders. However, Black was not on the rehabilitation programme before his trial and is unlikely to qualify for inclusion for many years.