Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Jennifer Cardy: A murder which shocked Northern Ireland

1981 was one of the most violent years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but in that dark numbing year of atrocities, the senseless murder of a little girl still had the power to shock. Now a man has been charged with the killing.

Jennifer Cardy
Jennifer Cardy was found murdered in 1981

The abduction and murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy united people in grief in a time of great division.

The schoolgirl had been enjoying her long summer holidays at home with her parents in Ballinderry, near Lisburn.

On 11 August, she set off on her red bicycle to visit a friend, but she never arrived.

Fears for her safety grew when her bike was discovered behind a hedge about a mile from her home.

In the awful hours and days that followed, more than 200 local people joined police and soldiers in one of Northern Ireland's biggest ever searches, combing the area for clues.

Her parents, Andrew and Pat, appeared on television during the effort thanking the searchers and saying the unity it had produced showed that Northern Ireland was not all about violence.

However, their worst fears were confirmed six days after Jennifer first went missing.

Her body was found by two young fishermen at McKee's Dam, near Hillsborough, about 10 miles from her home on the main Belfast to Dublin road.


A post mortem examination revealed that Jennifer had been drowned and that her body had been in the water for days before it was discovered.

Robert Black
Robert Black has been charged with the murder of Jennifer Cardy

Police were now dealing with a murder and a series of reconstructions were staged, but no-one has ever been convicted of killing Jennifer.

The file on her murder has remained open for 28 years and four years ago, detectives revisited her case.

A Scotsman, Robert Black, was questioned for a number of days in 2005 but was not charged at the time.

The 62-year-old, who resides in England, has now been charged with her murder.

It is understood that Mr Black was working as a van driver in 1981 and was delivering posters across the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.

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Man charged with 1981 girl murder
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