Nikki Allan: Prosecutors may get go-ahead to charge new suspect with murder of Sunderland schoolgirl, court told

Prosecutors may have been given the green light to charge a new suspect with the murder of Sunderland schoolgirl Nikki Allan, a court has heard.

Friday, 8th February 2019, 07:09 am
Updated Friday, 8th February 2019, 15:02 pm
Nikki Allen

Seven-year-old Nikki vanished while walking home to her flat in Wear Garth in October 1992.

Her body was found next day in the derelict Quayside Exchange building, just yards away.

Sharon Henderson leaves Sunderland Magistrates' Court

She had been repeatedly stabbed.

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

Police announced in 2017 that they were putting together a new team to investigate the killing.

But the prosecution produced no evidence after she agreed to a restraining order barring her from making any online mention of the Guide Post pub, landlord Keith Dewart, his wife Julie and customer Caroline Richards, or communicating with them directly or indirectly.

Magistrates recorded a formal verdict of not guilty.

Michael Rose, prosecuting, told the court Henderson, 52, had believed “rightly or wrongly” that the occupants of the pub knew something about Nikki’s murder.

She had put comments on her Facebook page, calling people ‘“scum and rats”, said Mr Rose.

Solicitor Jason Smith, for Henderson, said she believed information had been withheld at the time of the original investigation into Nikki’s death.

Police confirmed in April last year that a new suspect had been arrested.

“From Miss Henderson’s point of view, someone, at some point, and at some time, will have known something that they had not told the police,” he said.

“She put some comments on her private Facebook page, but it is open to an awful lot of people.

“As a consequence of these comments, it was spread.”

Mr Smith said Henderson had been informed that a new suspect – arrested last year – may be charged and she was keen to get the Communications Act case dealt with.

“The reality of the situation is that all Miss Henderson is interested in is that gentleman who was arrested, who we understand the CPS may well have authority to charge him with that murder,” said Mr Smith.

“I am not entirely convinced that is the case, but that is what we have been informed to be the situation.

“All that Sharon is interested in is getting justice for Nikki.”

She was keen to have the case finalised “so that other things can take place that are to be dealt with in the courts”, said Mr Smith

Speaking after the hearing, Sharon Henderson said she hoped the end of her 27-year wait for justice was in sight.

“The fight has been so hard, but it looks as if we are near to a charge,” she said.

“It is frustrating for the family, it is frustrating for my daughter, it is frustrating for my sisters and other relations and it is really tiring for me.

“I am going to do what I have to do and that is to get justice for Nikki.

“That is the way I have been for years and years.”

A police spokesman said a man arrested on suspicion of murder remains under investigation.