Seven-year-old ‘skipped to her death when she was lured to derelict building’

Scientific breakthroughs allowed experts to detect David Boyd’s DNA on Nikki Allan’s clothes, his murder trial has heard.

Tom Wilkinson
Thursday 20 April 2023 16:17 BST
Nikki Allan (Northumbria Police/PA)
Nikki Allan (Northumbria Police/PA) (PA Media)

A seven-year-old “skipped to her death” when she was lured to a derelict building where she was brutally murdered in 1992, a court has heard.

Police arrested David Boyd in 2018 and he claimed his DNA may have got on Nikki Allan when he spat off the balcony of his flat while she played in the courtyard below.

The 55-year-old is accused of smashing the girl’s skull with a brick and stabbing her 37 times, then dragging her body through the ruined building and dumping her in the basement.

The defendant, then also known as Smith or Bell, of Chesterton Court, Stockton, Teesside, is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court, where he denies murder.

Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, said Nikki had been playing outside flats known as the Garths in Hendon, Sunderland, on the evening of October 7 1992.

A factory worker later reported seeing a girl and a man in his 20s walking along a road in the area, with the girl trying to catch him up.

Mr Wright said: “This was Nikki Allan.

“She was with her killer and she was unwittingly skipping to her death.”

The jury was shown police video from the murder scene showing the interior of the derelict building, a bloodstained brick used to attack her and drag marks on the floor.

Access to the building, described as being in a perilous condition, was through a boarded up window, more than six feet off the ground, meaning her killer had to lift Nikki into the unlit premises.

Drops of her blood were found outside the building, indicating the attack started on surrounding wasteland, the court heard.

The schoolgirl’s body was dumped in a corner of an end room where her killer must have hoped she would not be found, the court was told.

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

Boyd knew the building well, having been there three days earlier with a 12-year-old boy to look for pigeons, Mr Wright said.

He was known to Nikki’s family, being the boyfriend of her babysitter, and he lived on the same floor of flats as her grandparents, the court was told.

Scientific breakthroughs had allowed experts to detect his DNA on Nikki’s clothes in “multiple areas”, jurors heard.

A child-sized mannequin wearing clothes similar to what Nikki was wearing on the night she was murdered was brought into court to demonstrate the places where DNA was recovered.

He was, by his own admission, the last man to see her alive that night, having her in his sight until the moments before she was lured away

Richard Wright

The jury heard that Boyd told police during an interview that he had spat off his balcony and she could have accidentally wiped it on herself.

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 was “intimately familiar” with the disused building.

Mr Wright said: “He was, by his own admission, the last man to see her alive that night, having her in his sight until the moments before she was lured away.

“He was by his own admission out of his flat alone at the time that she went missing.

“He closely resembles the description of the man who killed Nikki.”

The witness who saw the girl skipping helped to produce a sketch of the man and Mr Wright showed the jury photos of Boyd from the time.

The prosecutor said the man in the sketch bore a “striking resemblance” to how Boyd looked at the time.

A woman whose flat overlooked the building heard a “short-lived but piercing scream from a girl” at around 10pm.

Mr Wright said she recalled a similar scream a couple of minutes after the first.

Nikki’s family realised after 10pm that she was missing and many local people spent the evening “scouring the area”, jurors heard.

Mr Wright said the next morning a man searching the area near the building looked over the wall and saw Nikki’s purple coat in the grounds.

Boyd was not treated as a suspect at the time and was first arrested on suspicion of her murder in 2018.

Footage of his arrest showed a topless Boyd asking: “What evidence have you got anyway?”

Jurors were told a man called George Heron stood trial for her murder in 1993 but was rightly cleared.

Mr Wright said: “The killer of Nikki Allan was David Boyd, the man sitting in the dock at the back of this court.”

The case was adjourned until Monday.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in