The revenge of Smelly Robbie
Oct 19 2007 By Reg McKay
SMELLY ROBBIE! Smelly Robbie! Kids everywhere can be cruel. Just as they were in Grangemouth in the 1950s. If only they'd known who they were tormenting.
He was a strange kid, a loner and prone to aggressive outbursts. Everyone knew that he'd been given up by his mother and fostered by the Tulip family.
Kids weren't very kind to "orphans" in those days - another excuse to give him a bad time.
All his childhood, Robbie would be plagued by other kids. But he was going to wreak his terrible revenge one day on kids everywhere.
They had long forgotten Smelly Robbie in Grangemouth when they read their newspapers in autumn 1982.
Eleven-year-old Susan Maxwell had disappeared from her home in Coldstream on July 31 and was found 300 miles away. She had suffered great sexual indignities before being killed. Poor lassie, everyone agreed.
It was the type of crime that struck terror into every decent citizen. Someone had abducted young Susan and taken her to a place to rape and slaughter her.
A dread crime. It had to be stopped immediately.
In spite of enormous efforts by the cops, they had no leads in Susan's murder.
Almost a year later, five-year-old Caroline Hogg was abducted near her home in Portobello. She had been sexually assaulted, killed and dumped 300 miles away - but only 24 miles from where Susan had been found.
Alarms bells started screaming.
Posters of the two wee girls swamped Scotland. Every cop force and every parent in Scotland was on the alert.
When any young girl was reported missing, the road traffic cops would immediately start checking motors travelling south into England. No joy. Other young girls all over England had suffered the same fate as Susan and Caroline and almost 250,000 people had been interviewed in the national campaign to nab their killers. But were they linked?
To handle all the information being scooped up by different forces, a national database, CATCHEM, was created for the first time. Still no joy.
It took until 1990 for there to be a breakthrough and what a breakthrough it was.
A six-year-old girl was snatched from Stow in Selkirkshire.
The kidnap was witnessed by a passer-by and a policeman stopped his van. Beneath a pile of rags in the back, the terrified youngster was found, bound, gagged and hooded.
Another shock awaited the policeman who rescued her - it was his daughter.
Cops arrested the kidnapper - Robert Black, who as a kid in Grangemouth was known as Smelly Robbie.
Black had been put into care by his mother when he was just a baby. A kind couple called Tulip fostered him through difficult childhood years.
He was a loner, shy one minute and violent the next, with no reason, no warning.
Young Robert felt he should've been female, though even from an early age girls fascinated him sexually.
When Black was only 11, his foster mother died and he was moved to a children's home in Falkirk. Within months, he was caught sexually interfering with younger girls.
He was caught and punished, but that didn't stop him and he had to be moved between children's homes several times.
In 1962, having reached the then legal age of 15, he left school and got a delivery job in Greenock. Later in custody, Black admitted having sexually abused at least 40 children as he did his rounds. Nobody sussed what the delivery boy was up to.
His first conviction was for lewd and libidinous behaviour when he was 17. That involved abducting a young girl before sexually interfering with her. The pattern was set.
All his adult life, Robert Black was an active sex abuser. He had only one serious adult relationship, with a young woman called Pamela Hodgkinson.
When she broke that off, he headed to London in 1972 and his career as a sexual predator was about to go big time.
Poster Dispatch and Storage knew nothing of Black's background when they hired him. He was a driver after all, not working with kids.
But he was working on his own, travelling all over the UK and the continent - it was the sexual predator's ideal job.
Cops reckon Black killed April Fabb, 13, in Norfolk in 1969. But as a driver they have tied him to another five murders of girls before he chanced upon young -- Susan Maxwell.
Yet the decision was made to try him only for the killing of Susan, Caroline and 10-year-old Sarah Harper, from Leeds.
Found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court on all three counts, including charges of abduction and murder, the judge understood who he was dealing with and sentenced Robert Black to 10 life sentences. He'll never leave prison alive.
Later that year, there was a secret conference in Newcastle of top cops from all over Europe. There was only one point on the agenda - Robert Black's MO.
By the end of the day, they had agreed Black had been responsible for 17 murders and one abduction. The spree stretched from Ireland via France to the Netherlands, though most of his killings had been in Scotland and England.
They made an approach to him. What had they to lose? He was going to die in jail anyway. He said nothing. Nothing at all.
Every year since, European forces have gathered together and examined other cases from Black's killing years, 1969 to 1993.
Every year they leave depressed, convinced that other names should be on his list.
Every year a delegation is sent to Black's cell. Every year, they go back to their hotel rooms and phone grieving parents all over Europe. Every year they have the same story to tell.
They wish they could help. But they can't now. Probably not ever.
Why? Black is not talking. Not a word. Not a murmur. As they tell the details, a smile flickers slowly into those dead eyes. A smile of pleasure and victory.
Black isn't talking. Smelly Robbie is having his revenge.http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/special-...86908-19978472/