Vigil at site where Sunderland girl was found murdered 21 years ago today

21 years after the murder of Nikki Allan, mother Sharon Henderson returned to the scene of the brutal murder, supported by family, friends and supporters of the campaign to seek justice for Nikki Allan.
21 years after the murder of Nikki Allan, mother Sharon Henderson returned to the scene of the brutal murder, supported by family, friends and supporters of the campaign to seek justice for Nikki Allan.
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AGONY etched on her face, Sharon Henderson returns to the scene of her daughter’s brutal murder 21 years ago today.

Surrounded and supported by her family, the mum of Nikki Allan relives her torment as she renews her vow to “find my little girl’s killer”.

Today, hopes are higher than ever that Sunderland’s longest running child murder case will finally be solved.

Sharon, 48, said she felt “sick to the stomach” as she stood outside the building.

“It was so emotional, I felt ill,” she added.

Around 100 people from across the country joined Sharon yesterday as they held a vigil in memory of Nikki on the eve of her tragic death, with the group walking together to the site of graffiti which has been painted on a wall in nearby Nile Street in support of their fight.

The murder of seven-year-old Nikki on October 7, 1992, sent shockwaves around the city.

Twenty-one years on, the spotlight is back on the case after a recent Crimewatch reconstruction of Nikki’s final minutes was broadcast to millions across the UK.

Northumbria Police are hopeful that, following the TV programme, a vital breakthrough in the case can still be achieved.

Nikki’s body was found in the then-derelict Old Exchange Building, near to her family home at Wear Garth.

She had been beaten and stabbed 37 times.

Back at the building, Sharon said: “I’m tormented and just feel so emotional at the minute; I’m struggling to cope with everything that’s going on.

“It’s been 21 years of heartache, 21 years of fighting and grieving and battling for justice.

“I usually go to the cemetery each year but this year I just can’t, too much has happened.”

A CID team from Northumbria Police are now working on the case.

Supporting Sharon through today are daughters Stacey, 29, Zoe, 24, and Naomi, 22. Recalling her childhood with Nikki, Stacey said she will today think of the good times they had together.

“I remember us dancing and singing, chatting and playing – I remember everything.

“We were so close, always together, and then I was left with nothing, just an empty feeling.

“I’m always thinking about what she would be like now, wondering about the things she would be doing with her life. I think she’d be exactly like me.”

Police are appealing for information from people who used the Exchange building back in 1992.

On the night she was killed, Nikki had gone with Sharon to visit her grandfather Dickie, where they all lived in the Wear Garth flats overlooking the docks.

At 8.30pm, Nikki set out to walk less than 200 metres down the stairwell and across the short corridor to the family flat.

When her mother came home 10 minutes later, she was nowhere to be seen.

More than 100 shocked Wearsiders and police took part in a search.

Nikki’s shoes and folded-up clothes were found outside the Exchange Building.

Detective Superintendent Roger Ford, who is leading the inquiry, said today: “Although the murder happened 21 years ago, it is still very much an active case for Northumbria Police and we will continue to investigate until Nikki’s killer is brought to justice.

“Any information – especially around the Old Exchange building and those who used to hang about in there in 1992 – could prove vital in helping us solve this murder.

“If you know anything, no matter how insignificant you may think it is, then call us and pass it on.”

Anyone with any information on the murder can speak to detectives on a dedicated number, which is 0800 4565 914, or by ringing Crimestoppers anonymously on 08000 555 111.