CHILD murderer Robert Black was ambushed and beaten up in his cell by two other inmates, a court heard yesterday.

Black, who is serving 10 life sentences in Wakefield prison for torturing and murdering three little girls, was burned, beaten, and attacked with a blade by killer Craig Hendley, 25, and robber Andrew Wilson, 22.

The pair were sentenced to three years each yesterday at Leeds Crown Court after admitting wounding Black with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Their not guilty pleas to attempted murder were accepted by prosecutor Charles Elkins.

The court heard that the attack, which left Black, 48, with superficial wounds, burns, and bruising, was a bid by both prisoners to be transferred from Wakefield jail.

They waited for Black - who murdered 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg, aged five, and 10-year-old Sarah Harper - in his cell at teatime on July 11, 1995, and pounced on him as he came in.

The court heard that after throwing scalding water at him, with sugar in it to ``rip his skin off'', Wilson beat Black with a table leg before Hendley cut him with a home-made blade.

The pair then ran off and barricaded themselves in a cell before emerging and admitting the attack.

Both men said they did not regret what they had done and would do it again if they had the chance.

Hendley told police: ``I'll kill the next `nonce' to come near me.'' Nonce is prison slang for a sex offender.

Mr Simon Jack, defending Hendley, said his client wanted a transfer from Wakefield because he was upset after his fiancee called off their wedding.

He said Hendley, who was jailed for life in 1992 for murdering his neighbour and dumping his body in a skip, also carried out the attack because of Black's crimes.

Mr Jack said: ``Black was a particularly notorious prisoner because of the nature of the offences for which he was serving his sentence. It was for this reason he became a target.''

Mr Jack added: ``If there had been any intention to do very serious injury, this defendant certainly had a weapon with which he could have done it.

``This was really by way of a protest more than a direct attempt to inflict any serious injuries on Black.''

Wilson, serving five years for robbing a taxi driver, also wanted a transfer from Wakefield.

His barrister, Mr Paul Isaacs, said Black had also suggested Wilson should be his sexual mate in prison.

Sentencing, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge David Savill QC, said the attack was ``deliberate and savage''.

Hendley's sentence was concurrent with his life sentence. Wilson's will run consecutively to his five-year sentence.

Van driver Black was convicted of 10 charges of kidnap, murder, and prevention of the burial of the girls in May, 1994, at Newcastle Crown Court.

He bundled the girls into his van, tied them up, gagged and stripped them before sexually assaulting them and killing them.

At his trial, Mr Justice MacPherson said Black was an ``extremely dangerous man'' who should serve a minimum of 35 years in jail.