Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Convicted Serial Killer Appeals, Argues Prosecutors Made him Look Bad

Robert Black

Robert Black

Convicted Scottish serial killer Robert Black, 65, is back in court this time in an attempt overturn his 12th life sentence. Black, a delivery van driver, was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder of Jennifer Cardy, 9, in 2011. Jennifer was abducted in 1981 while biking to a friend’s house. Her dumped, possibly sexually assaulted, body was found a week later. At the time of this trial Black had already been convicted of abducting and killing Susan Maxwell, 11, Caroline Hogg, 5, and Sarah Harper, 10, though he is a suspect in many more not just in England, but in France, Amsterdam, Ireland and Germany as well.

In January 2013 Black’s attorneys essentially argued that at the 2011 trial the prosecution was allowed to improperly present evidence that made the convicted serial killer look like a serial killer. Defense attorney David Spens QC reportedly said, “The trial judge erred in admitting evidence of the defendant’s bad character. He detailed the discovery of child porn and objects used for self-abuse in the appellant’s home.” Spens was referring to Black’s extensive child porn collection, including over a hundred child porn magazines and over 50 video tapes, as well as his photos, self-portraits of Black, one with a wine-bottle up his anus, another with a telephone-handset, yet another with a table leg. At the time Black had explained to the incredulous officers that he wanted to see just how much he could fit up there.

The attorney also objected to the judge’s having allowed prosecutors to play a 2005 recording from a police interview of Black discussing his fantasies of abducting young girls. At the time prosecutor’s argued that black’s fantasies had in fact been acted out on Cardy. In the book Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives, by John E. Douglas, Ann W. Burgess and Robert K. Ressler, these former FBI experts say, “fantasy assumes a crucial role in sexual murders … these men murder because of the way they think” and their thoughts lead them to murder. Now Black’s defense is arguing “that they were nothing more than a fantasy” and should not have been allowed.

Black will be eligible for parole when he is 89.

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