A child killer who murdered a seven-year-old girl in 1992 has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years.
Sex offender David Boyd, 55, had a “sinister purpose” when he lured seven-year-old Nikki Allan to a derelict warehouse in Sunderland’s East End in October 1992, prosecutors said.
Boyd was convicted of murder earlier this month after jurors heard he battered her with a brick and stabbed her in the chest 37 times, then left her dead or dying in the basement.
Nikki’s mother Sharon Henderson, 57, has fought ceaselessly to see justice done for Nikki, and she described her ordeal in a victim statement read on her behalf at Newcastle Crown Court.
She said: “I’m 57 and I’ve spent more than 30 years fighting for justice.
“My life and that of my family has never been the same since Nikki was murdered.
“By murdering Nikki, David Boyd destroyed the life of my beautiful daughter, my life and the lives of my daughters and grandchildren.
“We have not been able to live normal lives since that day.”
Sentencing Boyd, Mrs Justice Lambert said she was sure he had sexually assaulted the little girl, or attempted to, after “tricking” her into following him that night.
In a statement released after the hearing, Mr Heron said he “lost what little honour and property I had” over the false accusation.
He added: “Moving around several times and trying to rebuild what is left of my life hasn’t been easy – learning to trust anyone is difficult and I haven’t even felt that I could trust in any professional to get help. I have had to learn how to adapt on my own.
“Trusting the police has taken a long time – they still make me nervous to the point of feeling nauseous if I am alone with them.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Lisa Theaker, of Northumbria Police, thanked Nikki’s family for their “patience and strength” while pursuing justice against Boyd.
She said: “The pain and suffering that David Boyd has caused to so many people is beyond measure.
“As an investigative team, we have worked tirelessly to find the person responsible – and crucially prove that it could only have been Boyd who murdered Nikki that night.
Richard Wright KC, prosecuting, said there had been a sexual component to the murder, given Boyd’s previous convictions for indecent exposure and indecent assault on a nine-year-old girl in a park in 1999.
He may have decided to murder Nikki after she screamed, Mr Wright said, in order to prevent her from telling anyone what he had done to her, after he lured her to wasteland outside the derelict building.
Sentencing was complicated because Boyd was dealt with as the law stood in 1992, when home secretaries determined how long life prisoners must serve before they can be considered for parole.
Mrs Justice Lambert passed sentence having considered how long the minimum term would have been at that time.
Jason Pitter KC, defending, said Boyd had learning difficulties and has been assessed as having an IQ in the bottom 2% of the population.
Mr Pitter also said it was not the defendant’s fault that Mr Heron was accused of Nikki’s murder.