Seven-year-old Nikki Allan 'skipped as she was lured to her death in warehouse 31 years ago', murder trial hears

20 April 2023, 13:46

Nikki Allan was found dead in a derelict building in 1992 at the age of seven
Nikki Allan was found dead in a derelict building in 1992 at the age of seven. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

A seven-year-old girl who was stabbed 37 times was seen skipping with a man shortly before she died, a court heard.

Nikki Allan had her skull broken with a brick before she was repeatedly stabbed through the heart, jurors heard.

Nikki was killed in a derelict building near her home in Hendon, Sunderland, by David Boyd, who was 25 at the time, Newcastle Crown Court heard today.

Boyd, then also known as Smith or Bell, of Chesterton Court, Stockton, Teeside, denies murdering the youngster.

Opening the prosecution's case, Richard Wright KC said: "Over 30 years ago, on the night of October 7 1992, a little girl called Nikki Allan was lured away from the block of flats in which she lived and towards the River Wear in Sunderland.

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"The man who led her away took her into an area of wasteland behind a disused building."

Boyd, who is now 55, is accused of hitting Nikki at least once, leaving her bloodied, before forcing her into the derelict building through a boarded-up window.

Mr Wright told the jury: "Inside the building, the man who took her there beat Nikki Allan about the head with a brick.

"He shattered her skull.

"He then used a knife to stab her repeatedly through the chest, the knife being driven in and out of her body many times through the same hole, into her heart, into her lungs, making sure of the job of killing her."

The killer then lifted and dragged Nikki "into the blackness of the basement" and must have known his way around, Mr Wright said.

The schoolgirl's body was dumped in a corner of an end room where her killer must have hoped she would remain undetected, the court was told.

But she was found the next morning by two of the many residents looking for her, prosecutors said.

A man called George Heron was charged with Nikki's murder and went on trial at Leeds Crown Court in 1993, jurors heard.

"The jury found him not guilty of murder," Mr Wright said.

"They were right to do so.

"George Heron was not the killer of Nikki Allan.

"The killer of Nikki Allan was David Boyd, the man sitting in the dock at the back of this court."

Boyd was well-known to Nikki's family and the boyfriend of her babysitter, the court was told.

Scientific breakthroughs allowed experts to detect his DNA on Nikki's clothes in "multiple areas", jurors heard.

Mr Wright said: "The case against David Boyd is a circumstantial one but it is, we will invite you to conclude, a compelling one, a case that will enable you to come to the sure and safe conclusion that he is guilty of her murder."

He said rather than being abducted by a stranger who "bundled her into a car", Nikki was lured from near her home.

Mr Wright said a witness saw a young girl skipping alongside a man.

"The little girl would occasionally drop behind and would then skip to catch up," Mr Wright said.

"This was Nikki Allan. She was with her killer and she was unwittingly skipping to her death."

Boyd visited the old Exchange building with a 12-year-old boy to look for pigeons days before Nikki died there and he knew the interior, the court was told.

Mr Wright said there was only a "shallow pool" of murder suspects - and the killer must have been a local white man in his 20s who knew Nikki and was in the area at about 10pm and "intimately familiar" with the disused building.

Boyd told police he saw Nikki on the night of her death and was, by his own account, "the last man to describe seeing her alive", jurors heard.

Mr Wright said the prosecution does not have to prove a motive - but invited the jury to conclude the killer did not lure Nikki away for a "benign reason".

Screams were heard at around 10pm that night and the prosecution said: "One distinct possibility is that her brutal death was not what had been intended at the outset but was instead brought about by her ability to identify the person who had taken her there and had hurt her outside the building."

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