Lost records ‘could have helped stop child killer’

Black has been convicted of killing four girls
Black has been convicted of killing four girls
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RECORDS of sexual offences committed in Scotland by Robert Black which could have alerted police to the danger he posed before he became a serial killer were lost, it was reported today.

It has also emerged that Black, who was yesterday found guilty in Northern Ireland of the murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in Ballinderry, County Antrim, in 1981, was a suspect in the original investigation 30 years ago but police found no reason to arrest him.

The 64-year-old, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Jennifer, has now been found guilty of four child murders. He was convicted in 1994 over the deaths of five-year-old Portobello girl Caroline Hogg, 11-year-old Susan Maxwell from the Borders, and Sarah Harper, ten, from Morley, near Leeds.

Caroline was snatched from a fairground in Portobello in 1983 and her body discovered weeks later dumped in the Midlands.

Police have revealed that Black is thought to be responsible for at least another four child murders in the UK and possibly others abroad.

It was reported today that records of Black’s teenage conviction for sexual offending had gone missing, and that meant he was not connected to later murders, nor caught for the murder of Jennifer, before he abducted and killed other children.

Last night, Susan Maxwell’s brother spoke for the first time of how Robert Black robbed him of his sister.

Tom Maxwell said nothing could “fill the void” left by Black’s horrific crimes.

Susan was kidnapped and murdered by Black in 1982, the year after he killed Jennifer.

Tom, 32, said: “I’m glad the jury reached the correct verdict and the 30-year mystery of who murdered Jennifer is finally over.

“But while it will be of some small consolation to her parents that Robert Black will continue to rot in jail for what he has done, nothing will ever fill the void left in their lives by Jennifer’s death. My thoughts are with them.”

Former Chief Superintendent Andrew Watt was the senior investigating officer on the UK-wide investigation launched in 1990 after Black was caught red-handed abducting a six-year-old girl in the Borders village of Stow.

He said: “As part of the investigations, we had looked at everyone across Scotland who had been convicted of sexual or similar offences.

“Black had been convicted of a minor sexual offence in the old Argyll and Bute police area but the records had gone missing. It was during this time that there was a great deal of reorganisation in the police and courts, and offices were moved around. When we asked for records earlier, he did not come up against the records of those convicted of sexual crimes. They looked at him but he had no record.

“It was not until after 1990 that we discovered he did have a conviction. When he was arrested [in 1990] we did a tremendous amount of work looking into his background, and a witness told an inquiry officer about his upbringing in care homes.

“The conviction in Argyll and Bute was for a sexual offence when he was a teenager. Police records were kept but these were lost in the reorganisation of the 60s and 70s. DNA was not really used. It was a different era.”