Watch this special report from ITV News Tyne Tees reporter Gregg Easteal on the crime that shook Sunderland
A man has been found guilty of murdering seven-year-old Nikki Allan in Sunderland more than 30 years ago.
David Boyd, 55, of Chesterton Court in Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, now faces a life sentence following his conviction.
On 7 October 1992, Nikki was lured to the Old Exchange building at night, battered with a brick and stabbed repeatedly, before being dragged and dumped, dead or dying, in the basement.
Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court have been hearing evidence for three weeks. They took about an hour and a half to find him guilty.
Nikki's family sobbed in the court as the verdict was delivered, with shouts of "yes, yes." Boyd did not react and remained motionless.
Discharging the jury, the judge told them: "This could well be the most important public duty you perform in your life."
Speaking outside the court, Nikki's mother Sharon Henderson 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.”
Speaking to ITV prior to the verdict, Ms Henderson spoke of how she still talks to her daughter every day.
Nikki lived near Boyd in flats in the East End of the city called The Garths, which have since been demolished, close to where her body was found.
Boyd, who was 25 when Nikki was killed, was well-known to her family and the boyfriend of her babysitter.
On Tuesday 9 May, jurors heard Boyd has a previous conviction for indecent assaulting a nine-year-old girl in 1999 and had admitted to police he had fantasies about young girls.
Until now, no one had been convicted in connection with Nikki's murder 31 years ago, making it one of Northumbria Police's most high-profile unsolved cases.
One of her neighbours, George Heron, had previously been charged but was acquitted in 1993.
David Boyd was arrested in 2018 after Northumbria Police relaunched their investigation into the murder and found new forensic evidence.
Following announcement of the jury's verdict 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. I’m extremely proud of the investigative team and all those who played their part in securing this conviction. I further hope this sends a strong message that no matter how long ago an offence took place, we will do everything we can to see justice served.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Lisa Theaker, the senior investigating officer in the case, added: “Nikki would have been 37 now and who knows what her life could have been. But her future was cruelly taken away from her by David Boyd. The pain and suffering that he has caused, and to so many people, is immeasurable. 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.
"The residents of Sunderland have also played their part in achieving justice for Nikki and her family. I want to take this opportunity to thank each person who assisted our investigation and provided their DNA for elimination.
“Without their help, today’s conviction would not have been possible.”
Boyd, who declined to give evidence during his trial at Newcastle Crown Court, now awaits sentencing.
Mrs Justice Lambert said Boyd could not be sentenced next week “for various practical reasons” as there had been an application for the sentencing remarks to be televised.
She set a sentencing date of May 23.
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