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.

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  • Indeed.
    This horrible murder took place a year before I married Mrs FitzjamesHorse and we went to live a short distance from Mr & Mrs Cardy.
    The family were and are very impressive. As I have often said I really do not know how I would deal with family tragedy on this scale. Some victims families…..Alan McBride or the late Joyce McCartan, to name but two …..impress. I hope that I would have been or would be like them. I really just dont know.
    Needless to say that I dont ever want to know.
    Suffice to say that we moved nearby intent on starting a family.
    And were blessed. At some point our sons were the same age as Jennifer Cardy.
    At this point one of our sons has children, one almost the age that Jennifer was.
    And yet we have also lost a granddaughter to natural causes. And the pain of seeing my own son carry a small white coffin is unbearable.
    But of course our granddaughter did not die violently or alone.
    The point is that not only do they forgive but that forgiveness is a basic virtue that they live daily. The living embodiment of expecting to be forgiven to the extent that we ourselves are forgiving of others…….”those who trespass against us”……..fundamental to those of any Christian faith.

    And thats the thing.
    People like Mr & Mrs Cardy have been tested in a way that most of us are not tested. And the world is a better place for people like them. And beyond our walls are people like them (untested) of all faiths and none.
    And the other thing is that beyond our walls are people like Robert Black.

  • HeinzGuderian

    If people can find comfort in religion,then who am I to argue with that ?

    What I would question though……..is Mr Black a christian,and does he take comfort in his faith ?

  • Robert Black does not deserve forgiveness. He deserves the death penalty. He tortured and murdered innocent children, again and again. He is cunning and ruthless and he does not care a jot about the pain and suffering he has inflicted on so many people – his victims and all those who knew and loved his victims. Keeping him alive serves no purpose at all and merely leaves open the possibility that one day he will attack again when he is eventually released. It also leaves all the people who tend to him in his cage, year in and year out, liable to violence at his hands.

    Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime. His crimes were vile and merciless. He deserves the ultimate punishment – the forfeit of his own life – instead of years in prison watching tv.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Are you a christian,democrat ?

  • HeinzGuderian

    Adolf was a ‘good christian’.
    Uncle Joe trained to be a priest.
    Charles Manson.
    Spring Heeled Jack.
    The Knights Templar.
    Torquemada.
    Mertin and Gerry are gawd fearing men.
    Pistol Pete and The Cougar are known to such views.
    Hell,even Dubya believes.

    ………………………………………

    Even Mr Black !!

    It is written,is it not,that Baby Jebus wil forgive them all.

    I,for One,want no part of any religion !!

  • Harry Flashman

    That shows what a hard hearted cold right wing nut job you are democrat. Allowing Black to keep on stealing oxygen gives a warm thrill to the anti-death penalty brigade who apparently believe that everyone executed in the US is in fact an innocent, invariably black, man framed by a callous state.

    Black’s continued detention in what are, for a psycho-sociopath like him, probably quite congenial circumstances is the way a certain type of liberal gets to show how much better as a human being they are from people like you and me who reckon a length of rope and a stool would be all that is required to cater for that bastard’s remaining lifetime needs.

  • Rory Carr

    We humans forgive those who have wronged us, those who have harmed us, in order that we ourselves might best recover from the harm that others have inflicted upon us.

    So long as we harbour our hurt, nurture our feelings of resentment, rage and vengeance, so long do we prolong the harm done to us. Forgiveness is the process whereby we release those thoughts and emotions which, while having no effect whatsoever upon the one who caused our pain, only act to prolong our own. So it is that we forgive for our own good sake, that we might heal.

    Mr and Mrs Cardy have been greatly assisted in their effort to find forgiveness by their deep religious faith in which they are quite evidently blessed. But, when we are seriously afflicted and the need for forgiveness becomes paramount for our recovery then we must find a source deep within ourselves that allows for that forgiveness whether or not we have any religious faith. And while religious faith is certainly helpful in this regard it is by no means essential and can, in some circumstances even be counter-productive. Fortunately spirituality is not the sole preserve of religion else we would all be doomed.

    What is not to be confused, but which I see already has been, is the forgiveness of the injured party with the remorse or penitence of the wrongdoer. Forgiveness may confer upon the wrongdoer the grace to find true remorse but only if he is open to its reception. That is a choice that belongs to him if he is blessed (or cursed some might say) with that capability shared by the majority of humankind, the ability to experience shame and remorse.

    There does however appear to be a category of human beings who somehow are devoid of such a facility, those whom we label psychopaths or sociopaths, a category whose member are apparently prominent as captains of industry and finance, in high (and low politics), in the police and military and judiciary, and strangely enough in the medical profession, and, of course among unrepentant rapists and murderers. Mr Black may be considered to be among this latter category and , if so, he is then to be pitied, for who among us would wish to be like him, to share his lack of sensibilities?

  • Rory Carr

    (continued)

    The question of how society is to treat with such offenders is one for another day (and another thread) and where it has been taken up in this discussion it is by those who miss entirely the point, that the example set by Mr and Mrs Cardy of the powerful healing effects that forgiveness of the wrongdoer has upon those grievously wronged.

    Indeed it is even possible that strong feelings of revenge and calls for bloody retribution against a party so far removed from those making such calls, are symptomatic of a need to find resolution and forgiveness in the matter of some personally unresolved conflict. The spiritual maxim is that when we find ourselves troubled, agitated, at odds with society or another, for whatever reason, we best look always inside ourselves for the cause of that disturbance. No point in blaming Robert Black for our own pyschic disturbance.

  • My sister-in-law was abducted and horribly murdered, then “disappeared” by a human beast. He is now in jail and will likely die there, having been handed the most severe tariff ever in the UK (I think). I see no reason to forgive him. Would that have anything to do with the fact that I am not a christian?

  • Harry Flashman

    “No point in blaming Robert Black for our own pyschic disturbance.”

    See how they work it?

    You think child-serial killers who have shown not the least remorse for their crimes should receive a reasonable and commensurate punishment for their appalling crimes and the lefties think you are the crazy one.

    There is simply no way of untangling the myriad warps within the brain of the average lefty.

  • slappymcgroundout

    So Turgon, did you actually catch the trial testimony? Did the accused testify? You seem to state that he did. Recall way back when I said that all that the prosecution would do, since the man was already incarcerated and unlikely to get out before death, is afford the miscreant the opportunity to revel in his misconduct with mom, dad, etc., back there in the gallery. If you caught the testimony, can you tell us if that was so.

  • Cynic2

    I deeply admire the Cardy’s fortitude and strength. But I regret that I do not agree with them on Black who is one of the most dangerous pedophiles we have seen in the last 30 years.

    He gets his kicks from abducting, torturing and killing children.He shows no remorse and a detachment from responsibility for his crimes.

    It can be argued that every day he is in gaol he is at risk from other prisoners who will wish to make a name for themselves by attacking or killing him but the Prison Service will work hard to protect him and that is little real deterrent for those outside who might share his propensities and know that even if caught all they face is a sentence in a relatively comfortable prison.

    In reality there is no effective deterrent to the Blacks of this world – and rest assured there will be others out there who may follow in his footsteps.

    While I have some concerns about the operation of a death penalty I have no concerns about it in principle. Black is one of those men for whom a rope was designed.

  • lamhdearg

    Thoughts on his conviction, Black before this trial was housed, fed, educated, entertained, and generaly kept/treated better than most of the elderly folk, of western Europe, during the trial he got to relive in his mind his fantasies daily, he is now back in his cosy cell, maybe even with some like minded people sharing storys of now they did their kiddys, one day he will be released, he will get special treatment to ensure HIS safety.
    I hope the Cardy’s belief system gives them solace.

    Black in a case in point, of how a % of human kind can without provocation torture for pleasure, i would like to see these people put in the same enclosed space without food or water, left to their own devices and ultimately to rot.

  • Rory Carr

    Never mind the paranoid outbursts of the, ” See how they work it ? ” kind, I made no comment on how society might best treat with the Robert Blacks of this world. But then neither am I so fixated as to dwell slaveringly over wild imaginings of his state of mind, picturing endlessly how his imagination must be working with crazed fantasies of his reliving his outrages with relish. As if we could possibly know such things, as if we would wish to.

    The phenomenon of the healing power of forgiveness is not a matter for the political arena, it transcends such societal concerns, nor is it to be confined to the religious sphere. People of all religions and none have come to know its tremendous power. It cannot be faked but, strangely enough it can be reached through a process of “fakery”. If a hurting individual, quite understandably unable to contemplate the notion of forgiving their wrongdoer, yet suffering endlessly from torments of unfulfilled vengeance which serve only to further their own agony while having no impact whatsoever upon the wrongdoer, makes an attempt at forgiveness through a ritual of repeating words of forgiveness over and over in their minds, then such a practice helps dispel the injurious negative thoughts and begins to open up the space for true forgiveness and full healing to begin.

    In this way, as Mr and Mrs Cardy so simply and eloquently put it with regard to the killer of their child, “He may have taken our daughter’s life, he is not going to take ours also.”

  • Harry Flashman

    No Rory but you implied, as you have again above, that wishing to see an end put to this monstrous man’s life as a part of a fair retribution for the horrors he has committed necessarily means that one is somehow sick in the head.

    It’s offensive and exactly what I meant in my original post that anti-death penalty fanatics believe themselves to be somehow morally superior beings to those of us who have a somewhat more robust attitude to the criminal justice system.

    Frankly I think your rather overwrought prosings about such a beast as Black, and I make no apology for describing the man in such terms, seems to indicate a serious moral and psychological failing on your part.

  • Nunoftheabove

    joeCanuck

    I have perhaps not dissimilar reservations about the quality of ethics which christianity has to contribute to such circumstances. I have to say that I find nothing necessarily to admire about the christian virtue of forgiveness as a matter of course (if, in fact, that is what this is at all…) and can’t say I’d even like to think I would do as this clearly very dignified and well-meaning family have done in these appallingly distressing circumstances.

    I can’t bring myself to see what’s necessarily ethically sound or desirable about it. If the accused himself had/has shown some remorse and pleased for forgiveness then it’s in the gift of the family to grant it or not or even to acknowledge it; I for one do not necessarily believe that for them to do so would represent behaviour which is morally superior to someone who chooses not to. It’s not possible for me to say in their shoes whether I would or not but as I say I don’t necessarily want to believe that I would or should do.

    Surely if the proposition is that forgiveness has some ‘healing power’ then it’s a healing power which benefits the issuer of the forgiveness rather than the recipient (and who objectively would want the recipient to benefit here even if there was some genuine remorse ?). As such therefore is it really a gesture that’s genuinely entirely giving and selfless ? And if it’s done purely out of religious conviction – as appears to be the position here – then surely they’re simply doing their duty and what’s required of them as Christians rather than anything exceptional; as such, is it really that remarkable in specifically religious terms even if it perhaps seems so in specifically human terms in the truly horrid circumstances ?

  • lamhdearg

    “how his imagination must be working with crazed fantasies of his reliving his outrages with relish. As if we could possibly know such things,”.
    I found it hard to listen to the reports of the trial, but i am sure i heard reference to him admitting as such to police,

    And a quote From bbc web news

    “The barrister outlined a dozen similarities.

    Jennifer’s parents looked on from the public gallery as the court heard how in police interviews Robert Black had graphically spelled out a horrific fantasy about sexually assaulting a child.

    The prosecution said its similarity to what actually happened to Jennifer amounts to it being “a partial, or even coded, confession” by a man who cannot face head-on the magnitude of what he has done.

    They highlighted nine separate areas within the fantasy which they say mirror exactly what happened to Jennifer.
    the bbc reports”

  • Rory Carr

    “Surely if the proposition is that forgiveness has some ‘healing power’ then it’s a healing power which benefits the issuer of the forgiveness rather than the recipient…”

    Yes, indeed. Which is exactly what I have been saying, but so many here are fixated on inflicting retribution upon the killer in an attempt to assuage their own bad feelings that they have ignored the feelings of the collateral victims.

    Whether the killer finds remorse and seeks atonement is by the way, if indeed atonement is possible. A rabbi I consulted held that rabbinical law considers the taking of human life, except in defense of life, to be so egregious that no atonement short of forfeiting one’s own life is possible. He then went on to say that a state which executed more than a very small number of convicted murderers in a fixed period (I can’t recall exactly but it was something like more than 7 executions in a ten year period) was considered then itself to be acting in breach of the Law.

  • lamhdearg

    “in defense of life”, Had Black been caught and killed after he killed for the first time the rest of the children wound be alive, if he where killed now the chances of him killing again would be 0, can anyone who would be against Black being killed give a guarantee, that Black will not kill again.

  • Reader

    Nunoftheabove: I have to say that I find nothing necessarily to admire about the christian virtue of forgiveness as a matter of course (if, in fact, that is what this is at all…) and can’t say I’d even like to think I would do as this clearly very dignified and well-meaning family have done in these appallingly distressing circumstances.
    Our current system of deterrence is a balance between a perfectly natural desire for revenge and a similarly natural desire for closure through forgiveness. Check out Matt Ridley’s “The origins of virtue” and any discussion of the “iterated prisoner’s dilemma” for a notion about how we managed to assemble societies instead of just flocks or herds.
    We are probably still getting by on the instincts we evolved over a hundred thousand years as hunter gatherers, with a thin layer of later philosophy and religion. The combination may not be perfectly tuned for modern life, but as you can see above, we can’t please everyone whatever we do.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Had Black been caught and killed after he killed for the first time the rest of the children wound be alive

    Had he been caught and killed before he killed for the first time all the children would all be alive.

  • There is no such thing as “closure”. It is a recently developed meme.

  • Turgon

    joe,
    Your personal circumstances are none of my business but I am far from clear that not being able to forgive is unChristian.

    Firstly there is no clear evidence in the scriptures that one must forgive unless the perpetrator exhibits repentence.

    Secondly forgiveness even if the perpetrator repents may take a long time for the aggreived party to give. God forgives instantly: Christians are called on to try to follow God but that does not necessarily mean they can feel instantly able to forgive.

    Finally forgiveness does not in any way mean that the aggreived party should want the sentence reduced. It is perfectly Chritsian (if one supports the death penalty) to forgive a murderer and still support his / her execution. Mr. Cardy appears to be of this view.

    There is a tendency for those who have never had great wickedness done to them or their family to demand that victims forgive. That can serve to victimise the family again which is completely unacceptable.

    You say you are not a Christian: that is none of my business. However, your inability to forgive the individual who did great wrong to your family is not a reason you cannot be a Christian: nor if you became a Christian would you necessarily instantly or maybe ever be able / have to forgive. You and your family are the wronged party.

  • Turgon,

    Thank you for your interpretation of the Christian position.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Turgon

    “there is no clear evidence in the scriptures”; my agreement with you probably doesn’t stretch much further than that…..however, surely as a christian believer you have a clear position on forgiveness or are you arguing that one can forgive or refuse to forgive and that both are equally aligned with what you believe as a christian ? Are both equally valid, equally christian ?

  • lamhdearg

    William Jameson had a history of violence
    A rapist from Belfast has been jailed for life for an attack on an old friend who contacted him through Facebook.

    William Jameson, 48, with an address at Finchampstead, Berkshire, lured the woman to a shed in Wiltshire, in November 2010.

    He bound and gagged her, told her she was going to be a “sex slave” and, after raping her, he left her tied up with a rope around her neck.

    The court heard that the 31-year-old woman had met him when they were on a computer course in Ireland. She did not know that he had a history of violence.

    She contacted him via the Facebook site and he invited her to England.

    When she arrived, he tricked her into going to the shed where he forced her to the ground and tied her up with electric cable.

    The court heard that he put a gag in her mouth and tied a rope around her neck and started to strangle her.

    Begging to be freed she offered him money to leave her alone, but he raped her.

    Escape

    It was only when he went outside to answer a phone call that she managed to escape.

    After Jameson was arrested, police searched his home and found he had more than 1,500 images of violent sexual child abuse on his computer.

    He pleaded guilty to rape, false imprisonment and ten counts of making indecent images of children.

    Jameson, originally from north Belfast, had previously been jailed in 1986 for the attempted rape of an eight-year-old Belfast girl. He tried to kill her by hitting her over the head with a breezeblock.

    After he was released from jail, Jameson moved to Dublin where in 1999 he was jailed for six years for abandoning another man who later died from strangulation and suffocation following a sado-masochistic sexual activity.

    Jameson was originally charged with manslaughter but later pleaded guilty to recklessly engaging in conduct in which there was a danger of death.

    He then moved to England where the attack later took place.”

  • Nunoftheabove

    lamhdearg

    …..WTF ?

  • lamhdearg

    shining a light, on western Europe’s Failing sentencing policy, in regards to beasts.