Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Black

Sudden Mindless Violence

Margaret Tulip died in 1958. It was the worst possible thing that could have happened. Black was only 11, and was once again deprived of a mother. Although a local couple offered to take him in, it was decided that Black would go to the Redding Children's Home near Falkirk, close to the place of his birth. It was during Black's time there that his fascination with sex, and particularly with the vagina, finally drove him across the line from childish experimentation to criminal behaviour. The fascination with the secret of birth, the hidden contents of the womb, was clearly exacerbated by the loss of the second mother. At the age of 12, Black made his first inept attempt at rape. He told Ray Wyre: "Me and two other boys went into a field with a girl the same age. We took her knickers off, lifted her skirt and all tried to put our penises in." Finding that they couldn't complete the act of penetration, the boys contented themselves instead with touching the girl's vagina. When asked if she was consenting to this, Black told Wyre: "I was forcing her, like, you know?" The incident was exposed and the authorities decided that Black would be better suited to a home with stricter discipline, not to mention an all-male environment.

Black was on the move again, this time to the Red House in Musselburgh. Here, having been sent away as an abusive bully and potential rapist, Black swiftly found that he had changed roles. For at least a year, possibly two, out of the three that Black was at the Red House, a male member of staff - now dead - regularly sexually abused him. The man's custom, apparently, when the time approached for his current victim to leave, was to force him to recommend another boy to take his place. Robert Black was recommended. Black later described the form that the abuse took: the man, he said, "Made me put his penis in my mouth, touch him, you know... He did try to bugger me once, but he couldn't get an erection." Even before his time at the Red House, Black had associated sex with dominance and submission. This association was now cemented in his mind. Now in the position of victim himself, he empathised and identified with his abuser: from the abuse perpetrated upon him, Black concluded that it was acceptable to take what you wanted without regard to other people's feelings.

During this time Robert had obtained a place at Musselburgh Grammar School. He was slightly above average academically, but it was sport that he was really interested in, especially football, swimming and athletics. When he later moved to London, in his early twenties he was given a trial for Enfield Town. Unfortunately his poor eyesight put a career in professional football beyond his reach. His love of swimming continued throughout his adult life, and he even worked as a life-guard for a time which was ideal fuel for his paedophilic fantasies. As a boy at the Red House Robert often walked from Musselburgh to nearby Portobello where there were two swimming-pools in which he would practise. Over 20 years later a little girl called Caroline Hogg was to be abducted from Portobello, and later murdered. Carolines house was on the route between the two swimming-pools.


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