Nobody claims ashes of reviled Scots serial killer Robert Black

Child killer Robert Black
Child killer Robert Black
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No family members of Scottish serial killer Robert Black have come forward to claim him, despite the Coroner Service searching for more than six months.

A coroner in Belfast is seeking to trace Black’s relatives to establish whether they want to participate in his inquest.

Caroline Hogg. Murder victim of Robert Black.

Caroline Hogg. Murder victim of Robert Black.

In January, Coroner Patrick McGurgan said “all efforts need to be made to trace the next of kin”.

He said that they should be offered the opportunity to give evidence.

On Friday, a preliminary hearing heard that none have yet been found.

“Inquiries have been ongoing (in the search for the next of kin), but no-one can be traced at present,” counsel to the Coroner told the short hearing.

Grangemouth-born Black, who was convicted of four child murders - including the 1983 murder of Portobello five-year-old Caroline Hogg - but suspected of many more, died of heart disease in a Northern Ireland prison in 2016 aged 68.

The loner paedophile was a delivery driver who stalked the roads of the UK searching for victims.

The search for Caroline Hogg, who Black snatched from Portobello promenade, was the largest in Scottish history at the time. Her body was recovered two weeks later 310 miles away close to the M1.

Black was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea after prison authorities in Northern Ireland revealed no one wanted his remains.

The killer’s long reign of terror was ended in 1990 when he was caught red-handed by police with a barely alive six-year-old girl hooded, bound, gagged and stuffed in a sleeping bag in the back of his van in the village of Stow.

He had sexually assaulted her moments earlier.

Once in custody, the predator was linked to a series of unsolved crimes in the previous decade.

In 1994, Black was found guilty of three child murders in the 1980s, those of Caroline Hogg, 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds, as well as a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988.

In 2011, he was found guilty of the 1981 murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy, from Ballinderry, Co Antrim.

Black, who lived out his last days in Maghaberry high security prison in Co Antrim, was also suspected of involvement in other killings and unexplained disappearances and had long been the prime suspect in the case of missing 13-year-old Genette Tate, who was last seen in a rural lane in Aylesbeare, Devon, in 1978.

The killer was put up to be fostered within weeks of his birth in 1947.

A couple from Kinlochleven in the West Highlands who took him in both died within 11 years and Black spent the rest of his childhood in residential homes in Falkirk and Edinburgh.

The full inquest into Black’s death is scheduled to start on the week commencing Monday December 3 in Armagh.

Another preliminary hearing will take place on Friday September 14.