Mum of murdered Sunderland schoolgirl Nikki Allan slams police for failing to tell her detective leading the hunt had left the force

The mother of murdered Sunderland schoolgirl Nikki Allan has slammed Northumbria Police for failing to tell her the detective leading the hunt for the seven-year-old’s killer had left the force.

By Kevin Clark
Thursday, 30 May, 2019, 12:52
Sharon Henderson with a picture of her daughter Nikki Allan

Nikki was found just yards from her home in Hendon in October 1992.

She had vanished while walking home to her flat in Wear Garth and her body was discovered the next day in the derelict Quayside Exchange building in High Street East.

Nikki Allan

Neighbour George Heron was initially charged with Nikki’s murder but acquitted after a trial judge accused police of heavy-handed tactics and refused to allow the jury to hear a taped confession.

Northumbria Police set up a new team to investigate the killing in April 2017, to the delight of Nikki’s mum Sharon Henderson.

But now the officer leading the investigation - Det Supt Lisa Theaker - has left the force without anyone informing Sharon and returned to her native Cleveland, although police say she will still be involved in the investigation.

Det Supt Theaker joined Cleveland Police in March. The force even put out a press release announcing her arrival, and referring to her role in the Northumbria Homicide and Major Enquiry Team which ‘saw her as the Senior Investigating Officer for some of the region’s most horrific cases.’

Forensic officers at the scene of Nikki Allan's murder in October 1992.

But Sharon only found out about the change when the release was forwarded to her just days ago.

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“I got the statement that Cleveland put out sent to me,” she said.

“I was disgusted. It seems to be that every time something happens, a new team ends up on Nikki’s case.

“I would rather they were honest with me and told me she had moved on.”

Police confirmed last year they had identified a new suspect and a man was arrested in connection with Nikki’s murder earlier this month.

The Echo understands the latest development involves a re-arrest of the same man as last year.

“While Detective Superintendent Lisa Theaker has transferred to Cleveland Police, she continues to be the lead investigator for the Nikki Allan murder in Northumbria and the investigation is still being supported by officers from Northumbria Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team.

“This will in no way impact the investigation into Nikki’s death or affect the support the family receive from Det Supt Theaker or Northumbria Police.”