Published Friday, 29 June 2012
Robert Black at an earlier court appearance, (© Pacemaker)
Judges fixed the 65-year-old paedophile's challenge to being found guilty of killing Jennifer Cardy for a three-day hearing in January.
Nine-year-old Jennifer was abducted as she cycled to a friend's house in Ballinderry in August 1981.
She was murdered and then her body dumped in water near Hillsborough, Co Antrim.Black, a former delivery driver from Grangemouth in Scotland, was in Northern Ireland at the time on a work trip for a London-based poster dispatch firm.
Following a six week trial at Armagh Crown Court a jury reached unanimous guilty verdicts last October on counts of kidnap and murder.
He was sentenced to serve at least 25 years in prison.
Jennifer's murder was the fourth for which Black has been convicted. He is also serving multiple life sentences in Wakefield prison in England for a series of other child killings.
In 1994, he was found guilty of three unsolved murders from the 1980s - those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds - and a failed abduction bid in Nottingham in 1988.
In the Court of Appeal on Friday a lawyer for Black outlined progress in securing trial transcripts required for the challenge.
Counsel for the prosecution stressed that a substantial amount of work is still to be done before the hearing can take place.
Seeking a date early in the new year, he pointed out: "Mr Black is in custody in any event as a serving prisoner on other matters."
Judges were told the case was likely to take three days.Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan listed the appeal for the week beginning 14 January, stressing to both sides they have more than six months to prepare.