Nikki Allan: paedophile jailed for life for violently murdering girl, 7, after escaping justice for 30 years
A heartbreaking 30-year mystery around the death of a Nikki Allan, who was found beaten and stabbed in a derelict basement, has finally been solved after her neighbour, David Boyd, was jailed for minimum of 29 years
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A paedophile has finally been jailed for life for murdering seven-year-old Nikki Allan in 1992, after escaping justice for more than 30 years.
Warning: some readers mind find the content distressing
David Boyd, who 25 at the time and later admitted having sexual fantasies about young girls, took little Nikki to a disused building in Sunderland, where he attacked her with a brick before stabbing her 37 times. Police first spoke to Boyd, who was a neighbour of Nikki's grandparents, in 1992, however it wasn't until 2018 - after advances in DNA evidence - that detectives finally arrested him.
Over the years, Nikki's mum Sharon Henderson refused to give up her fight for justice and kept the case in the public eye. On 12 May, Boyd, now 55, was found guilty of Nikki's murder at Newcastle Crown Court, with cries of “yes” and “you bastard” could be heard in the public gallery as family members hugged and shouted in jubilation as the verdict came in. Nikki’s sister Stacey Allan shouted “yes, thank you” as she left court.
Today (23 May), Boyd, of Chesterton Court, Stockton, Teesside, was jailed for life, with a minimum prison term of 29 years. Mrs Justice Lambert passed sentence having considered how long the minimum term would have been at that time. Boyd had previously denied murder, but was found guilty at trial after he had refused to go into the witness box to give evidence.
Nikki's mum Sharon described her ordeal in a victim impact statement which was read out to the court. She said: "I’m 57 and I’ve spent more than 30 years fighting for justice. My life and that of my family has never been the same since Nikki was murdered.
“By murdering Nikki, David Boyd destroyed the life of my beautiful daughter, my life and the lives of my daughters and grandchildren. We have not been able to live normal lives since that day.”
Northumbria Police first prosecuted the wrong man, George Heron, who was cleared after a trial in 1993. Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, told the court Boyd was known to Nikki’s family, lived in the same block of flats as her and was the boyfriend of their babysitter.
Nikki had been out with friends on the evening of 7 October 1992 and a woman told police she saw a little girl wandering with a man now known to be Boyd.
Mr Wright said: “The little girl would occasionally drop behind and would then skip to catch up. This was Nikki Allan. She was with her killer and she was unwittingly skipping to her death.”
Prosecutors said Nikki must have known her killer to willingly follow him – grainy CCTV showed a male adult being trailed by a child.
Locals told police they heard piercing screams on the night Nikki was killed. And the tight-knit community helped officers, who carried out an overnight search when it was realised the schoolgirl was missing.
The next morning, Nikki’s shoes and coat were found outside the dockside warehouse – with her body found in the basement. Her blood was discovered outside the only entry point, a boarded-up window about six feet off the ground.
Investigators believe Boyd must have hit Nikki outside the building, then lifted her inside and carried out his monstrous attack, during which he left traces of DNA on her clothes. Seven years later, Boyd indecently assaulted a nine-year-old girl in a Teesside park.
He already had a conviction for breach of the peace in 1986 after asking an underage girl for a kiss. He told his probation officer he had fantasised about naked “young girls”.
In 2017, advances in DNA techniques allowed police to re-examine Nikki’s case and extract samples from her clothing. Tests indicated a one in 28,000 match for Boyd – or a male relative of his – was found on the clothes “in multiple areas”, jurors heard.
Police were then able to go back and request a DNA test from the man they considered a mere witness 31 years ago. Boyd was arrested on suspicion of murder in 2018 and charged last year after a painstaking investigation involving the DNA testing of 839 men linked to the area at the time.
Speaking to reporters outside court after the guilty verdict, Nikki’s mum Sharon spoke of the “injustice” that “this evil man slipped through the net to murder Nikki when he was on their (police) files in the first place”. "Three doors down from Nikki’s grandparents. They should have investigated him straight away,” she said.
Asked how she found the strength to keep fighting for justice, Ms Henderson said: “Because Nikki’s my daughter and I love her.”
Assistant Chief Constable Brad Howe, of Northumbria Police, said: “Today is about justice – for Nikki and her family. We thank them for their patience and strength over the last 30 years and our thoughts very much continue to be with them. David Boyd hid his crime, lying about his involvement and prolonging the family’s suffering, knowing all along that he had taken the life of their little girl. The investigation into Nikki’s murder has been one of the most complex and comprehensive ever conducted by Northumbria Police.”
While Det Ch Supt Lisa Theaker, the senior investigating officer in the case, added: “This is a huge day for Nikki’s family. I would like to thank them for their incredible strength, after 30 years, they have justice. Since 2017, as an investigative team, we have worked tirelessly on what has been a complex and challenging case. Our commitment has always been to find the person responsible and ensure they were brought to justice.
“New forensic techniques were a key part in this investigation, and we have been supported by incredible experts, witnesses and specialists who have helped us discover and prove who was responsible."