Thoughts on Robert Black’s conviction

Last week saw another of the murderers of the past brought to justice. In this case, however, there was absolutely no controversy. Robert Black was convicted of the 1981 kidnap and murder of Jennifer Cardy. Black had already been convicted of the murder of three other little girls and is suspected of a number more.

The police investigation against him was apparently christened “Perseverance” and indeed the details are extremely impressive: 22 tons of evidence was accumulated; 2,500 potential suspects eliminated from the enquiry; over half a million petrol receipts trawled and the interview strategy took a year of planning.

More impressive still, however, was the behaviour and comments of Jennifer Cardy’s parents. They sat through the details of the kidnap and murder of their nine year old daughter, an experience they described as like losing her all over again and heard what seems to have been a coded confession. Then after the verdict her father shook hands with Black’s defence team, her mother hugged them and after giving presents to the prosecution and police teams they went outside to face the media. The interviews are almost impossible to watch without being brought to tears. The almost inconceivable eloquence with which both Mr. and Mrs. Cardy spoke of their pain and distress was matched only by their quiet, gentle yet utterly unshakable religious faith. To top it all was the fact that they had prayed for Robert Black before they left the court room and that her father stated that he pitied that Black would spend eternity in hell unless he repented. Mr. Cardy quiet clearly hopes and prays Black does indeed repent.

There might be social or political points to be made at this juncture but that could demean the power of the Cardys’ words. As an example of the good force that religion and devoutly religious people can be it is a shinning and stunning example. As a witness to the power of Christian faith we will not see its like for some time.