Nikki Allan: Family say lives 'have never been the same' since she was murdered by David Boyd

The family of Nikki Allan have described the impact of her murder on them. Credit: Family photo

The family of a girl murdered more than 30 years ago have described how their lives have never been the same since her death.

Nikki Allan was seven when she was murdered near her home in Sunderland in 1992.

Earlier this month, 55-year-old David Boyd was convicted of killing her – finally bringing to a close one of Northumbria Police’s most notorious unsolved murder cases.

He is being sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court today (Tuesday 23 May).

During the hearing, statements were read to the court on behalf of Nikki’s mum Sharon Henderson and father David Allan.

Ms Henderson said: “Nikki was a bright and sparky child who was always a mammy’s girl.

“She had a beautiful smile and was loved. I cannot put into words how I felt when I found out she was missing and ultimately found murdered.”

She added she had to endure a trial in 1993 – of innocent man George Heron, who was falsely accused – and she subsequently believed he had got away with Nikki’s murder.

She added: “At that time, because of what I was told, I believed that George Heron, the man I believed was responsible, had got away with Nikki's murder.

Nikki Allan was described by her mum Sharon Henderson as "bright and sparky" with a beautiful smile. Credit: Family

"Police had stated they were not looking for anyone else.

"After the acquittal I was accused of being a bad mother, even though my children were looked after.

"Local people were angry towards me, not towards the person responsible for her murder.

"I was left feeling I had to fight for justice for Nikki.

"I fought tirelessly and endlessly. It just became part of my life."

She described the impact on her mental and physical health, and being arrested for inquiries she made herself to try and get justice for her daughter.

She added: “"I have felt so frustrated over the years as I have felt I have not been listened to.

"I was 25 when Nikki was murdered. I speak to her all the time and I told her I would never give up.

“I’m 57 now. I’ve spent over 30 years fighting for justice.

“My life and that of my family’s has never been the same. He destroyed Nikki’s life, my beautiful daughter, my life and the lives of my daughters and grandchildren.

Sharon Henderson still speaks to her daughter Nikki every day. Credit: ITV

“We have not been able to live normal lives since that day.”

Mr Allan told the court he found it difficult to put into words the impact his daughter’s death had had on his life.

Describing feelings of “anger and hatred”, he said: "I know I will never be able to forgive the man responsible for her murder."

He added: “The man responsible for Nikki's murder has lived his life for 30 years.

"Nikki didn't get to live hers.

"The conviction and sentence will be a good outcome and means the man responsible can no longer walk the streets but brings little change or comfort to my life, one I have to live without Nikki."

David Boyd, now 55, was convicted this month of the murder of Nikki Allan. Credit: Northumbria Police

A statement was also given to the judge on behalf of Mr Heron, though it was not read aloud.

Last week Northumbria Police issued formal apologies to Nikki’s family for the length of time it has taken them to bring Boyd to justice, and to Mr Heron who had to leave Sunderland and start a new life, despite being found not guilty.

Mr Heron was subjected to oppressive questioning and denied having any involvement in the murder 120 times, during three days of interviews, before he made some kind of confession.

Meanwhile, Boyd remained free and indecently assaulted a nine-year-old girl in a Teesside park in 1999, later confessing to his probation officer he had previously had sexual fantasies about naked “young girls”.

Ms Henderson kept up the pressure on the police, at great personal cost to her mental health, and met Northumbria Police’s then chief constable in 2017, getting his backing for a fresh start in the inquiry.

New DNA techniques extracted traces on Nikki’s clothing and that breakthrough ultimately led police to Boyd, but also involved more than 800 Sunderland men volunteering to give DNA samples so they could be eliminated from the inquiry.

Nikki had been playing outside the Garth flats where she lived and was seen by a witness skipping behind a suspect, now known to be Boyd.

She was murdered in the derelict building then dumped in the basement and her shoes and coat were found outside the next morning by people searching for her.

Boyd knew her family as he was the boyfriend of their babysitter.

There were emotional scenes in the public gallery when the jury convicted Boyd, despite the trial judge, Mrs Justice Lambert, asking for there to be complete silence at that point.

She will pass a life sentence and set the minimum term Boyd must serve before he can be considered for parole.

She has heard submissions from lawyers and is due to sentence Boyd this afternoon.

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