Video report by Gregg Easteal
The man who murdered seven-year-old Nikki Allan has been sentenced to life in prison.
David Boyd was found guilty of the murder of the youngster more than 30 years after her death following a trial earlier this month.
Nikki was found dead in a derelict building near her home in Sunderland in October 1992. She had been beaten with a brick and stabbed 37 times in her chest and torso before being dumped in the basement of the warehouse.
Her killer has been told he will serve a minimum of 29 years.
Speaking outside court, Nikki’s mum Sharon Henderson said she was "devastated" by the sentence.
She said: “I thought life would have been life. I’ve been let down again by the justice system and the police force.”
She added: "I wouldn’t have been satisfied with life. This is a seven-year-old bairn. Crimes like this are serious.
"Nikki’s case wasn’t taken seriously. Never has been. I’m absolutely devastated at the sentence."
Describing it as an "injustice", she added: "I thought I’d been through trauma when I found out Nikki was murdered and it’s happened again.”
Stacey, Nikki’s sister, said "you have to be strong" to hear the details and said he "should never walk free again".
Mrs Justice Lambert was filmed while she delivered her sentencing remarks from Newcastle Crown Court - the first time this has happened in the North East since the legislation was introduced last year.
Boyd, who was 25 at the time of the murder, is now 55.
Justice Lambert described the murder as "vicious and brutal" and said the terror must have felt has she tried to flee her killer as "unimaginable".
She told Boyd: "As the years passed by and you got on with your life you must have thought, not doubt, that you had got away with it."
She told Boyd she had to sentence him according to the guidelines laid out at the time of the crime. Had she been sentencing according to present guidelines, he would have served a minimum of 37 years.
As it it, he must serve a minimum of 29 years before he can apply for parole.
Justice Lambert said: "Nikki Allan was loved. She was loved by her mother whose moving statement of loss and sadness has been read to this court.
"She was loved by her father whose life has been changed by the events of 7 October 1992.
"She left a hole in her family and community in which she lived."
Earlier in the hearing, the court had heard from Ms Henderson and Nikki's dad David Allan.
Ms Henderson, 57, who has fought ceaselessly to see justice done for Nikki, described her ordeal in a victim statement read on her behalf at Newcastle Crown 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."
Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, said there had been a sexual component to the murder, given Boyd’s previous convictions for indecent exposure and indecent assault on a nine-year-old girl in a park in 1999.
He may have decided to murder Nikki after she screamed, Mr Wright said, in order to prevent her from telling anyone what he had done to her, after he lured her to wasteland outside the derelict building.
Jason Pitter KC, defending, said Boyd had learning difficulties and has been assessed as having an IQ in the bottom 2% of the population.
Mr Pitter also said it was not the defendant’s fault that another man - George Heron - was accused of Nikki’s murder.
In a statement released after the hearing, Mr Heron said he “lost what little honour and property I had” over the false accusation.
He added: “Moving around several times and trying to rebuild what is left of my life hasn’t been easy – learning to trust anyone is difficult and I haven’t even felt that I could trust in any professional to get help. I have had to learn how to adapt on my own.
“Trusting the police has taken a long time – they still make me nervous to the point of feeling nauseous if I am alone with them.”
Following the sentencing, senior investigating officer in the case, Detective Chief Superintendent Lisa Theaker, said: "First and foremost, my thoughts are with Nikki’s family. I would like to thank them for their patience and strength shown during their relentless pursuit of justice.
"The pain and suffering that David Boyd has caused to so many people is beyond measure.
"As an investigative team, we have worked tirelessly to find the person responsible – and crucially prove that it could only have been Boyd who murdered Nikki that night.
"Since 2017, we have taken more than 1,200 statements with 2,500 documents produced and over 5,500 actions created. The team has obtained DNA from more than 800 men – travelling the length and breadth of the country to ultimately prove Boyd was responsible.
"Over the last six years, we have been supported by a team of amazing specialists and witnesses who have helped us in our pursuit of justice. I would like to thank them – as well as the residents of Sunderland.
"Every single person who came forward and provided their DNA for elimination helped to push us closer to securing justice for Nikki and her family. Without their help, this would not have been possible."
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