David Boyd, left, has been found guilty of the 1992 murder of seven-year-old Nikki Allan.

David Boyd, left, has been found guilty of the 1992 murder of seven-year-old Nikki Allan. (Image: AP)

A mother’s enduring love for her murdered seven-year-old daughter helped her win justice after a 31-year battle.

Sharon Henderson’s fight to jail Nikki Allan’s killer ended when David Boyd, 55, was found guilty today.

Boyd beat Nikki to death near her home in Sunderland’s East End in 1992.

Minutes after the sex offender was found guilty, Sharon, 55, was asked how she had found the strength to keep fighting for three decades.

She replied simply: “Because Nikki is my daughter and I love her.

“As long as I still had breath in my body, I would never have stopped until they found the man who killed Nikki.

“Nothing mattered more in my life than seeing justice.”

READ MORE: They imprison the pedophile who beat a seven-year-old girl to death and dumped her body

Sharon Henderson's fight to jail Nikki Allan's killer is over

Sharon Henderson’s fight to jail Nikki Allan’s killer is over (Image: Andy Commins)

nikki allan

nikki allan (Image: AP)

Mistakes by the police allowed neighbor Boyd to stay free while grief plagued Sharon terribly for years.

She said: “I’ve been through hell. I have battled alcohol problems and been in a mental hospital. But I knew I would get him.”

Outside Newcastle Crown Court, he said: “This wicked man slipped through the net to murder Nikki when she was at her home.” [police] files first. Three doors down from Nikki’s grandparents. They should have investigated it immediately.”

Family members hugged and screamed as the verdict came in. Nikki’s sister, Stacey, said: “I’ve waited my whole life for this. Now I can get on with my life.”

Boyd crushed Nikki’s skull with a brick and then stabbed her 37 times, once through the heart, before throwing her into an old basement.

There were no signs of sexual assault and the murder appears to have been sadistic cruelty.

david boyd

david boyd (Image: AP)

David Boyd's arrest in 2018

David Boyd’s arrest in 2018 (Image: AP)

Sharon’s fight for justice was rewarded in 2016 when a cold case team was created. Northumbria Police had previously charged George Heron with murder, but he was acquitted by order of a judge in 1993.

Boyd, 25 at the time, was well known to Nikki as his then-girlfriend, Caroline Branton, was her babysitter and he was her grandparents’ neighbor, but he somehow avoided suspicion.

Sharon continued: “The police let me down so much, they had so many chances to catch Boyd.

“Instead, I have spent 30 years investigating Nikki’s death and could have been spared that if the police had done their job properly.

“I was treated like a drunk mother with mental health problems, I never felt heard by the police. Hearing everything they missed or didn’t investigate has been devastating.”

The spunky mum built a relationship with Boyd’s ex-girlfriend Mrs Branton, even moving to the other side of Sunderland to be close to her.

Crime scene at the Old Exchange Building in Hendon, Sunderland

Crime scene at the Old Exchange Building in Hendon, Sunderland (Image: AP)

Eventually, convicted molester Boyd was found in Stockton-on-Tees and a DNA test turned out to be a one in 28,000 match for samples found on two of Nikki’s garments. It would be decisive in her trial.

Sharon said: “I knew I would get him, one way or another, no matter how long it took, I would see him locked up. She sometimes felt as if the police had completely forgotten about the case. I felt like the only one who never got over Nikki was me and that was a lonely fight.”

Nikki was attracted to Boyd while playing in a backyard; at the trial it was heard that she “jumped to her death”, and poor quality CCTV showed an adult and a smaller figure walking towards the Old Exchange building.

Boyd had been there days before with a 12-year-old boy to “look for pigeons.”

Sharon tracked down any men on the estate that she suspected and kept one: Boyd.

A mannequin showing the outfit Nikki was wearing when she was last seen alive.

A mannequin showing the outfit Nikki was wearing when she was last seen alive. (Image: AP)

He used the last names Smith and Bell at the time, hiding his identity, but Sharon remembered him. She said he was a loner, adding: “The only time I remember seeing him was when I was on the terrace in front of the apartments on his floor, I don’t remember talking to him.

“He was there during the police search for Nikki and always hanging around. I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind and I knew I had to track down where it had gone. I made it a point to befriend his girlfriend and his daughter and even moved to Ryhope to be close to them.

“I wanted to be close to them and find out what they knew about who and where he was. She just knew that he had something to do with it.

“I have distanced myself from most of my family through this, it has taken over my life. My other three daughters grew up knowing a mother who couldn’t get over the death of her sister and that she was drinking to herself.

“They have lived with someone who just couldn’t stop looking. My life has been on hold for 30 years until someone was finally brought to justice. But I know in my heart that for so long he got away with it and I will never feel that justice has been fully done.”

Sharon and Nikki were visiting their father and stepmother when a noise from a vacuum disturbed her.

She added: “Nikki hated the racket and said she wanted to go home. I told her to go ahead, that she would be there in a minute. I’ve replayed that moment in my head a million times. It was the last time I saw her when she walked out that front door.

“The thought of what that monster did to him in that building and the fear he must have felt will haunt me for the rest of my life and have driven me to get justice for all these years.”

Assistant Police Chief Brad Howe said Boyd “concealed his crime, lying about his involvement and prolonging the family’s suffering.

“The investigation into Nikki’s murder has been one of the most complex and comprehensive ever conducted by Northumbria Police.

“I am extremely proud of the investigative team and all those who played their part.”

Boyd is due to be sentenced on May 23.

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