A mother's story...
years ago Nikki Allan, a seven-year-old girl, was murdered on Wear Garth estate
It was a crime of extreme brutality.
Nikki's body was
found in a derelict building - she had been battered over the head and stabbed
Arrest of a neighbour
A house-to-house inquiry resulted
in the eventual arrest of a neighbour, George Heron.
Under police questioning,
Heron admitted killing Nikki.
But during his trial in October 1993, the
Judge threw out the confession saying detectives had used "oppressive methods"
to obtain it.
Heron was found not guilty.
For 14 years Sharon has been fighting tirelessly
to find Nikki's murderer and bring them to justice.
Now the police are
reviewing the evidence, and one of the country's leading solicitors is convinced
that Sharon has got a case.
Inside Out takes Sharon back to the murder scene
and investigates the case.
Return to Wear Garth
Back in 1993 Sharon
Henderson was a single mum bringing up four children on the Wear Garth estate,
close to where Nikki died.
On the night of the murder, Nikki and her mum
had visited her grandfather, who also lived in the Wear Garth flats.
feel physically sick. I know she was crying for me, crying for mam, and I just
cannot get that vision out of my head... I just picture her little body in the
returning to the murder scene
But Nikki had decided
to return home alone before her mother.
It was a short 150 yard walk down
a corridor, but she never made it back to the flat.
Her body was found outside
the derelict Old Exchange building, 300 yards from her home.
Heron was found not guilty of the murder, fighting broke out in court and Sharon
Even now she can't remember a lot about the next few years.
Twelve years ago Sharon sued George Heron in the civil courts
for battery of a child resulting in her death.
The proof of evidence is
lesser in the civil courts.
Heron did not contest the case and Sharon won.
Now she wants the police to re-examine DNA evidence to see if Heron should
be brought back to trial or eliminated from further enquiries.
for answers - Sharon Henderson, mother of Nikki|
murder science has moved on and Nikki's case is now being re-examined by Northumbria
Police's cold case team.
They hope that new DNA techniques could lead to
the breakthrough Sharon is so desperate for.
Sharon has also been meeting
her new solicitor who deals with high profile cases.
But she's frustrated
at the lack of progress:
"I just feel as though I'm just
poor little Sharon stuck in the house waiting for the phone but I'm Nikki's mum
and I want justice."
Det Supt Steve Howes understands
Sharon's desire to move on:
"I understand that she needs closure and
I hope this review gives her that but at this stage its far too early to say."
Sharon's story and her interview with Anne Ming
The double jeopardy law dated back
800 years to the Middle Ages. It ruled that a person acquitted by a jury could
not be tried again on the same charge.
Ann Ming contested the double jeopardy
rule. She wrote to the Law Commission, (which advises the government on legal
reform), and approached the Home Secretary. She also argued her case with members
of the House of Lords.
In 2001 the Law Commission announced a review of
A major breakthrough came under the Criminal Justice Act 2003,
which allowed the quashing of an acquittal if "new and compelling" evidence
The case of Ann Ming's daughter, Julie Hogg, was the first
referred to the Court of Appeal under the new Act.
It was the first time
that a retrial and conviction was achieved for a double jeopardy case.
The 'double jeopardy' law prevents someone from being
tried twice for the same crime.
However, it may still be possible for Heron
to face a new trial thanks to a change.
Ann Ming, from Teesside, has been
a long time campaigner for the double jeopardy law to be scrapped.
has become a close friend of Sharon Henderson in her battle for justice.
daughter, Julie Hogg, went missing from her Billingham home in 1989.
22-year-old's body was eventually found behind a bath panel.
Billy Dunlop was charged with her murder, but acquitted after a trial.
campaigned for years to change the law stopping people being tried twice for the
Nine years later Dunlop confessed to the crime and was jailed
He become the first man to be tried again for murder
- and has been jailed for life.
Sharon Henderson has come
so far but still, she faces an agonising wait.
Going back to court could
now be an option but will DNA evidence be strong enough to identify Nikki's killer?
is determined to get the answers she needs:
"I will get
closure because I will not give up until I've got justice for Nikki."
a full list of Victim Support services in the North East and Cumbria, click here.
relating to this story:
The BBC is not responsible for the content
of external websites