Police won’t stop investigating “evil” serial killer Robert Black, says Yorkshire detective

Child serial killer Robert Black after being found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court on ten charges, relating to the murders of three schoolgirls - Caroline Hogg, Sarah Harper and Susan Maxwell, as he has died in prison in Northern Ireland aged 68. Photo credit: John Giles/PA Wire
Child serial killer Robert Black after being found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court on ten charges, relating to the murders of three schoolgirls - Caroline Hogg, Sarah Harper and Susan Maxwell, as he has died in prison in Northern Ireland aged 68. Photo credit: John Giles/PA Wire
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Police will continue to look into serial killer Robert Black’s links with unsolved child murders despite his death in prison, according to a retired West Yorkshire detective.

Bob Bridgestock, who worked on the investigation into Black’s murder of Morley schoolgirl Sarah Harper in 1986, described him as “pure evil” and comparable with Moors murderer Ian Brady.

Sarah Harper

Sarah Harper

It was announced yesterday that Black had died at the age of 68 in prison in Northern Ireland, depriving police of the opportunity to quiz him about other murders where he was a suspect.

Mr Bridgestock, who led investigations into 26 murders for West Yorkshire Police and is now a crime fiction writer with his wife Carol, was drafted in to work on the Sarah Harper case while a Detective Sergeant in Calderdale.

Ten-year-old Sarah, of Brunswick Place, was on her way back from a nearby corner shop when she was snatched and murdered in 1986.

Four weeks later, a dog walker found her body floating in the River Trent at Wilford near Nottingham. A post-mortem examination revealed she had been violently sexually assaulted before drowning.

Crime writer and former detective Bob Bridgestock

Crime writer and former detective Bob Bridgestock

Mr Bridgestock said: “It was what is known as a Category A murder and the whole force is mobilised. When a young girl goes missing every resource is used. I work at Calderdale and was drafted in. I used to go to school in Morley and knew the area very well.”

In 1994, Black was found guilty of Sarah’s murder along with two other unsolved child murders in the 1980s – those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders and five-year-old Caroline Hogg from Edinburgh – as well as a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988.

His reign of terror finally 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 Scottish village of Stow. He had sexually assaulted her moments earlier.

In 2012, Black was found guilty of the 1981 murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy, from Ballinderry, Co Antrim. He was also suspected of involvement in other killings.

He had long been the prime suspect in the case of missing 13-year-old Genette Tate, who was last seen in Devon in 1978.

Mr Bridgestock said: “I was a Detective Sergeant at the time but I rose to Detective Chief Inspector in charge of numerous murder inquiries in West Yorkshire. I have dealt with child murderers, we shouldn’t put them on a pedestal and we don’t.

“I have come across one or two people who I would describe as evil, the only other child murderer I can think of like that is Ian Brady. It is that sort of cold, calculating killer.

“He has has 68 years of life and destroyed numerous lives. He has stolen the lives of children. He doesn’t do the life sentence, it is the victim’s families. There is no sadness in my heart for him.

“The only sad side of it is that he was suspected of other child murders and abductions. I understand they were in the process of charging him with another child murder. The investigation into Robert Black will never end.

“After his arrest the number of children going missing seemed to reduce. He was prolific, he had these appetites and had no sense of feeling or remorse. He was not the kind of person who like to talk about what he had done. He didn’t like to confess.

“The only sad side of it is that I would have liked him to have made a death-bed confession and give some closure for the families. They never really get closure, but for them to know who he was, at least they are not looking at every individual they come across. They have been denied that.

“The investigation does not end with his death, there will be authorities that still look at Robert Black.”

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