Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Black

Sudden Mindless Violence

In the summer of 1962 when Black was fifteen, his time at the Red House was up. With some help from the authorities, Black got a job as a delivery boy and found a room to rent in a boys home in Greenock, outside Glasgow. He later admitted that while he was doing his delivery rounds he molested 30 or 40 girls. He told Ray Wyre that if "there was a girl on her own in the flats where I was delivering, I'd like sit down and talk to her for a few minutes, like, you know, and try and touch her: sometimes succeeded, sometimes not." Amazingly none of this behaviour seems to have been officially reported, and it was not until a year later that Black's first conviction came about. The charge was for 'lewd and libidinous' behaviour with a young girl; it should have been for attempted murder. Black, who was now seventeen, had approached a seven-year-old girl in the park, asking her if she would like to go with him to see some kittens. The girl trustingly followed him as he led her to a deserted building. Black told Ray Wyre that:

"I took her inside and I held her down on the ground with my hand round her throat... I must have half-strangled her or something because she was unconscious...When she was quiet I took her knickers off and I lifted her up so as I was holding her behind her knees and her vagina was wide open and I poked my finger in there once."

He then "laid her down on the floor and masturbated" over her inert body. Her lack of consciousness, far from detracting from his pleasure, enhanced it. When he left the girl in that derelict building he didn't know - nor, it seems, care - whether she was unconscious or dead. She was later found wandering the streets: bleeding, crying and confused.

The case was bought to court and astoundingly Black was given an admonishment, a verdict particular to Scottish law which is effectively no more than a warning to be on good behaviour in the future. A naive psychiatric report had been prepared for the court which said that the event was an 'isolated' one, highly unlikely to recur or to mar Black's normal development. Thus by the time he was seventeen, Black had attempted to rape one girl, left another for dead, molested many others, and got away with it.

Unlike the psychiatric report, however, the Social Services probation report viewed the incident as more serious and it was decided that Black should leave Greenock and return to Grangemouth to make a new start. Here he got a job with a builders' supply company and rented a room with an older couple. He also met his first (and last) real girlfriend. According to Black, Pamela Hodgson and he fell in love, developed a sexual relationship and decided to get engaged. Years later he still remembers the 'devastation' he felt when a letter arrived from Pamela after some months telling him that it was over. Perhaps she had heard some of the gossip that was circulating about her boyfriend and his sexual preferences. Or, indeed, that she was beginning to experience them at first hand.

In 1992 after Black had been served with ten summonses, including three for the murder of three little girls, in an attempt to shift the moral responsibility he told officers: "Tell Pamela she's not responsible for all this." This, of course, implied the opposite: that the break-up of their relationship had left him so devastated that she had driven him to murder.

Although Black claims that while he was seeing Pamela he did not molest any girls, he was forced to leave Grangemouth for just that. Black's mounting obsession with little girls, and his fascination with their vaginas, would not have disappeared during his relationship with Pamela - although he may have had less opportunity to act out his desires - and they resurfaced in 1966. This time the victim was the nine- year- old granddaughter of his landlord and landlady. The abuse took the same form as it had previously, with Black looking at, touching, and putting his fingers inside the girls vagina. She eventually told her parents, yet it was decided that the police would not be called. It was felt that the girl had been through enough and Black was ordered to leave the house.