Killer of Northumberland schoolgirl Susan Maxwell could face investigation over 1978 murder

The man who murdered Northumberland schoolgirl Susan Maxwell could be investigated over the murder of Genette Tate in 1978

Niall Carson/PA Wire Robert Black, being taken from Lisburn Magistrates' Court after being formally charged with the August 1981 murder of Jennifer Cardy
Robert Black, being taken from Lisburn Magistrates' Court after being formally charged with the August 1981 murder of Jennifer Cardy

Child killer Robert Black should be investigated over the 1978 murder of Genette Tate, her father said.

Devon and Cornwall Police have long suspected the serial killer - who murdered Susan Maxwell, from Northumberland, in the 1980s - of murdering 13-year-old Genette, who was last seen in a rural lane in Devon in 1978 but whose body has never been found.

There is now new hope of a prosecution in the case after Black last year lost an appeal against his latest conviction for the murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy. He had argued his trial was prejudiced because details about three other child murders he had already been jailed for were revealed to the jury.

Police are now liaising with the Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service to see if the the appeal court ruling has “any bearing on the Genette Tate case”. It could pave the way for police to launch a case against Black based on his previous convictions.

PA Triple child killer Robert Black (left), who is to be questioned by police about the mystery disappearance of 13-year-old newspaper delivery girl Genette Tate (right), who vanished 26 years ago
Triple child killer Robert Black (left), who is to be questioned by police about the mystery disappearance of 13-year-old newspaper delivery girl Genette Tate (right), who vanished 26 years ago
 

John Tate feels “pretty happy” that the police are confident in their investigation, although he hoped they had not overlooked any other suspect by spending time focusing on Black.

Asked how he had coped in the decades since Genette went missing, Mr Tate said it had been difficult as the incident was never far from his mind.

He said: “You look at everything that it could possibly be to do with her. You just cope very poorly sometimes.”

Black was found guilty in 1994 of the three child murders in the 1980s - those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from Cornhill-on-Tweed, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds.

In 1990 he was caught red-handed with a six-year-girl hooded, bound, gagged and stuffed in a sleeping bag in the back of his van in the Scottish village of Stow. In 2011 he was prosecuted for a fourth murder - that of Jennifer Cardy, who was snatched as she cycled to a friend’s house in Ballinderry, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in 1981.

The paedophile is serving a total of 12 life sentences for murder and kidnap.

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