Nikki Allan: Key events in the conviction of David Boyd for murder of Sunderland schoolgirl

Nikki Allan was murdered in 1992 by David Boyd. Credit: Family photo

A man has been found guilty of the murder of seven-year-old schoolgirl Nikki Allan in 1992.

For more than 30 years, it was one of Northumbria Police's most high-profile unsolved murders.

David Boyd, 55, of Chesterton Court in Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, was found guilty of murder by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court, ending decades of uncertainty for Nikki's family.

Nikki was hit by a brick before being stabbed multiple times and dumped in a derelict building near her home in Sunderland.

What happened in the case of Nikki Allan?

  • October 7 1992: That evening, Nikki Allan had been playing with friends outside the block of flats in Sunderland’s East End where she lived. She is lured away by neighbour David Boyd. At around 10pm she is seen skipping to catch him up as he takes her to the derelict Old Exchange building where he savagely murdered her and left her, dead or dying.

  • October 8 1992: Local residents help police to carry out searches of the local area overnight and Nikki’s shoes and jacket are found outside the Old Exchange, some 300 yards from her home. Her body is found in a dark corner of the basement.

  • October 1992: Police arrest neighbour George Heron and after three days of questioning, under duress, he admits killing Nikki, having denied it 120 times before.

Boyd, aged 25 at the time, is never considered as a suspect and he gives a witness statement, after Mr Heron has been charged, explaining his movements on the night of the murder.

  • October 1993: Mr Heron is cleared of Nikki’s murder during his trial at Leeds Crown Court on the instructions of the judge, who had deemed some of the interview tapes inadmissible.

Mr Heron goes into hiding and is taken in by a religious order. Police say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the murder.

  • Over the following years, Nikki’s mother Sharon Henderson refuses to give up her fight for justice and keeps her daughter’s murder in the public eye, making repeated criticisms of the police inquiries so far.

  • April 8 1999: Boyd indecently assaults a nine-year-old girl in a Teesside park. He later tells his probation officer he had sexual fantasies about “young girls” when he was in his early 20s.

  • September 2013: A reconstruction of Nikki’s disappearance is shown on the BBC Crimewatch show.

  • September 2016: Ms Henderson raises a petition urging the police to reinvestigate.

  • April 2017: She meets Northumbria Police’s then chief constable Steve Ashman to discuss the investigation and is told the force is determined to catch the killer.

  • October 2017: At around the 25th anniversary of the murder, police announce forensic advances have been made which could crack the case and start to carry out DNA tests on hundreds of men who were living in the area at the time of the murder.

  • April 17 2018: Police arrest Boyd, by now a convicted paedophile, on suspicion of Nikki’s murder and he is interviewed several times before being released pending further inquiries.

  • April 2019: Boyd is rearrested and questioned.

  • In the following years, slowed by the pandemic, police individually approach and DNA test 839 men from around the country who were linked to the case, or the inquiry, to eliminate them from the investigation.

  • May 2022: Boyd is charged with Nikki’s murder and he appears before magistrates.

  • April 20 2023: The trial opens at Newcastle Crown Court where jurors are shown a video of the scene where Boyd dragged and dumped the little girl’s body. Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, explicitly tells the jury that Mr Heron did not kill Nikki and that Boyd did.

  • May 12 2023: Boyd is convicted of murder.

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