POLICE have launched a new bid to prosecute serial child killer Robert Black with the murder of a schoolgirl who disappeared 36 years ago.
The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed it is considering information which could lead to a fresh case over the killing of Genette Tate, 13, in 1978.
Devon and Cornwall Police have long suspected Black of murdering Genette.
Genette, a newspaper delivery girl, vanished from a rural lane in Aylesbeare, Devon, in August of that year. Her body has never been found.
There is now new hope of a prosecution in the case, after Black lost an appeal last year against his latest conviction for the murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy.
Black, originally from Grangemouth, argued that his trial was prejudiced because details about three other child murders he had already been jailed for were revealed to the jury.
Nikki Haywood, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), confirmed: “The CPS is considering information provided by Devon and Cornwall police and any potential impact it may have in respect of the Genette Tate case. Consideration is at a very early stage at this time, and no final decisions have been made in relation to any aspect of this case.”
Devon and Cornwall police said they were at a “very early stage” of liaising with the CPS about the impact the appeal could have on the case.
“Devon and Cornwall police is liaising with the complex case unit of the CPS, to ascertain if the 2013 Court of Appeal judgment following the murder of Jennifer Cardy in Northern Ireland has any bearing on the Genette Tate case,” a force spokeswoman said.
“This liaison is still at a very early stage and will take some time to complete.”
The appeal could pave the way for police to launch a case against Black based on his previous convictions.
Genette’s father, John Tate, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he felt “pretty happy” that police have confidence in their investigation, though he hoped they had not overlooked other suspects by spending time focusing on Black.
Mr Tate said it had been difficult to cope since the disappearance of his daughter, as the incident was never far from his mind.
“You look at everything that it could possibly be to do with her. You just cope very poorly sometimes,” he said.
Mr Tate said he believed the police dealt very well with the case, adding: “It’s been pretty good – they wanted her DNA and it was taking forever and then we had a new chief constable, a female, and within two weeks she had it.
“She put it in a different way, she went privately with it and it worked out perfectly. I haven’t been disenchanted with them, apart from their lack of contact sometimes, but what do you do?”
Black was found guilty in 1994 of three child murders in the 1980s – those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, of Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, aged ten, from Morley, near Leeds.
His reign of terror ended in 1990 when he was found with a six-year-old girl who had been hooded, bound, gagged and put in a sleeping bag in the back of his van in the Borders village of Stow. He had sexually assaulted her moments earlier.
In 2011 he was prosecuted for a fourth murder – that of Jennifer Cardy, who was snatched as she cycled to a friend’s house in Ballinderry, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in 1981.
Paedophile Black is serving 12 life sentences for murder and kidnap.
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