Black day in court for private Ryan

BY DARREN NUFFER

NATASHA Ryan's boyfriend was yesterday jailed for 12 months for his role in hiding her from the world for five years. Scott Angus Black, 28, was sentenced in Rockhampton District Court after pleading guilty to perjury.

Black had helped hide Ms Ryan at his North Rockhampton home while repeatedly denying to police any knowledge of her whereabouts.

Yesterday Judge Grant Britton gave him a threeyear jail term, suspended after 12 months.

Before he was taken into custody, Black appeared to signal "I love you'' to a crying Ms Ryan.

He put a finger to an eye, then his heart, and pointed it in the direction of her.

Ms Ryan responded by putting one hand up to wave.

The couple had been living together and have a one-year-old son.

Ms Ryan, now 21, disappeared in 1998 when she was 14 after her mother dropped her off at school.

Although her body had not been found, Leonard John Fraser, already a convicted child killer, was charged with her murder along with the slaying of three other Rockhampton women.

During Fraser's committal hearing in 2002, Black falsely supplied a statement that he had not seen or had any contact with Ms Ryan.

However, midway through Fraser's Supreme Court trial in Brisbane in April 2003 she was found hiding in a cupboard in Black's house following a tip-off to police.

Judge Britton yesterday said it needed to be made very clear to the public that perjury was a serious offence.

"You allowed a man to stand trial for a murder that you knew with absolute certainty that he didn't do,'' Judge Britton said.

"You had the power to prevent that by telling the truth.'' Fraser is serving an indefinite life sentence for a number of murders.

Natasha Ryan is still to face court with Black on separate charges of causing a false police investigation as police try to recoup $500,000.



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