Paedophile and child serial killer Robert Black dies in jail

Scot was convicted of murders of four girls and suspected of at least one other killing

Paedophile and serial child killer Robert Black has died in Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim, the North's prison service has confirmed.

It appears the 68-year-old Scot died of natural causes. The prison service said his death was not being treated as suspicious but that the PSNI, the coroner, and Prisoner Ombudsman have been informed.

Black was convicted of murdering four children, three of them in Britain and one in Northern Ireland. He was also suspected of killing at least one other child.

1981 murder

In 2011, Black, who was originally from Stirling in Scotland, was convicted of the 1981 abduction and murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy.

She was snatched as she was cycling near her home in Ballinderry in Lisburn, Co Antrim. Her body was discovered in a dam 18 miles away, near Hillsborough, Co Down.

Black was already serving a lengthy prison sentence at the time of his Northern Ireland conviction.

In 1994, Black was convicted of three unsolved child murders in the 1980s: of Susan Maxwell (11) from the Scottish Borders; Caroline Hogg (5) from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper (10) from Morley, near Leeds, and a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988. He pleaded not guilty to these killings, as he did to Jennifer Cardy's murder.

Prime suspect

Black was also one of the prime suspects in the case of missing 13-year-old Genette Tate, who was last seen in a country lane in Aylesbeare, Devon, in 1978.

Black was arrested in Scotland in 1990 when police were alerted to his abducting a six-year-old girl off the street and driving her away. Police gave chase and eventually caught up with Black’s van.

The policeman discovered that the child who was tied up and gagged in the van was his daughter.

There has also been speculation that Black could have been responsible for the disappearance of six-year-old Mary Boyle from Kincasslagh in Co Donegal. She was visiting her grandparents in Cashelard, near Ballyshannon, Co Donegal in 1977 when she went missing.

In recent years, doubts have been cast over whether he could have been involved in her disappearance.