Robert Black inquest: Child killer died from heart attack, jury confirms

Robert Black
Robert Black

Serial child killer Robert Black died from a heart attack, an inquest jury has confirmed.

The former delivery driver from Falkirk, central Scotland, who preyed on victims as young as five, was at serious risk after a lifetime of little exercise and heavy smoking.

Black was found dead in his cell in Maghaberry high-security prison in Co Antrim in January 2016 aged 68.

He murdered four schoolgirls between 1981 and 1986.

Jurors found he had died from a cardiac arrest, with degeneration of the walls of the coronary artery a secondary cause.

They confirmed underlying factors included his age, his smoking and diet, high blood pressure, a previous stroke and diabetes.

The jurors said there were no defects in his treatment by the health authorities or in the systems used by the Northern Ireland Prison Service which contributed to his death.

Black used tobacco until the end despite complaining of angina chest pains, doctors told his inquest.

High blood cholesterol caused narrowed arteries, a GP and a pathologist previously told the inquest hearing in Armagh.

For 51 years, Black regularly smoked 25g of hand-rolled tobacco. He suffered a stroke 20 years earlier.

The killer was convicted in the same Armagh courtroom in 2011 of sexually assaulting and murdering nine-year-old Co Antrim schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy in 1981 and dumping her body in a dam.

Jennifer, from Ballinderry, was abducted while she cycled to a friend’s house near her home.

None of Black’s family members could be traced by the Coroner’s Service and were not at the inquest, Coroner McGurgan said.

His victims’ relatives also stayed away.

The killer was serving a number of life imprisonment sentences when he died.

In May 1994, he was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering three of his victims.

Susan Maxwell was 11 when abducted in 1982 near the border between Scotland and England.

Her body was gagged and bound and she was found 250 miles away in England.

His next victim was a girl aged five, Caroline Hogg, who was abducted from Portobello in Edinburgh in 1983 and her body was found 300 miles away.

Sarah Harper, aged 10, was abducted in 1986 and found dead in the River Trent near Nottingham.