A man has been found guilty of murdering a seven-year-old girl more than 30 years ago in Sunderland.

Nikki Allan was lured to her brutal death in a derelict warehouse 300 yards from her family’s home in the city’s East End in 1992.

After a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, neighbour David Boyd was found guilty of murdering Nikki, who was attacked with a brick and stabbed 37 times in the chest before she was dumped – dead or dying – in the basement of the old Exchange building.

Cries of “yes” and “you b*****d” could be heard in the public gallery as family members hugged and shouted in jubilation as the verdict came in.

Boyd, 55, did not visibly react.

Nikki’s sister Stacey Allan shouted “yes, thank you” as she left court.

Speaking to Sky News outside the court, she said the jury’s verdict was “the best moment ever” and said she “jumped up in court and screamed”.

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Nikki’s sister: ‘What an amazing moment’

Nikki’s mother Sharon Henderson, who campaigned ceaselessly to keep the unsolved murder in the public eye, criticised police after Boyd’s conviction.

Outside court, she spoke of the “injustice” that “this evil man slipped through the net to murder Nikki when he was on their (police) files in the first place”.

“Three doors down from Nikki’s grandparents. They should have investigated him straight away,” she said.

Asked how she found the strength to keep fighting for justice, Ms Henderson said: “Because Nikki’s my daughter and I love her.”

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‘Today is about justice’ for Nikki Allan

Boyd refused to give evidence in court

Prosecutor Richard Wright KC said Boyd was known to Nikki’s family, he lived in the same block of flats as her and was the boyfriend of their babysitter.

Nikki had been out with friends on the evening of 7 October 1992 and a woman told police she saw a little girl wandering with a man known to be Boyd.

Mr Wright said: “The little girl would occasionally drop behind and would then skip to catch up.

“This was Nikki Allan. She was with her killer and she was unwittingly skipping to her death.”

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Boyd denies ‘involvement’ during arrest

Boyd, aged 25 at the time of the killing, denied murder but refused to go into the witness box to give evidence.

Prosecutors said Nikki must have known her killer to willingly follow him and grainy CCTV showed a male adult being followed by a child.

Locals told police they heard piercing screams on the night Nikki was killed.

Murdered schoolgirl Nikki Allan

Boyd left traces of DNA on Nikki’s clothes

The local community helped officers who carried out an overnight search when it was realised the schoolgirl was missing.

The next morning, Nikki’s shoes and coat were found outside the dockside warehouse and her body was found in the basement.

Her blood was discovered outside the only entry point, a boarded-up window around six feet off the ground.

Investigators believe Boyd hit Nikki outside the building, then lifted her inside to carry out his attack, during which he left traces of DNA on her clothes.

murdered schoolgirl Nikki Allan

DNA advancements allowed police to re-examine case

Seven years later, Boyd indecently assaulted a nine-year-old girl in a park in Teesside.

He already had a conviction for breach of the peace in 1986 after asking an underage girl for a kiss.

He told his probation officer he had fantasised about naked “young girls”.

In 2017, advances in DNA techniques allowed police to re-examine Nikki’s case and extract samples from her clothing.

Tests indicated a one in 28,000 match for Boyd – or a male relative of his – was found on the clothes “in multiple areas”, jurors heard.

Police were then able to go back and request a DNA test from the man they had considered a mere witness 31 years ago.

Boyd, of Chesterton Court, Stockton, Teesside, was arrested on suspicion of murder in 2018 and charged last year after an investigation involving the DNA testing of 839 men linked to the area at the time.

Another man, George Heron, was charged with Nikki’s murder in 1993 but a jury at Leeds Crown Court found him not guilty.