Murder accused David Boyd’s barrister urged jurors not to adopt a “blinkered” approach in deciding if he killed Nikki Allan.
Boyd denies he was the man who lured the seven-year-old away in Sunderland in 1992 with a “sinister” motive before smashing her skull with a brick, stabbing her repeatedly to the chest then dragging her into a cellar of a disused building.
Making his closing speech to jurors at Newcastle Crown Court, Jason Pitter KC claimed police and prosecutors had continued to adopt the blinkered approach that led to innocent George Heron being charged with Nikki’s murder and later cleared.
Mr Pitter said: “There are two things we agree with the prosecution about. We agree this is a truly awful case. We recognise Nikki Allan died in horrible circumstances which, if we are human, will evoke powerful emotions, particularly of sympathy.”
Mr Pitter said jurors must place emotions to one side “because they don’t help you in this case, what they do, in fact, is potentially cloud your judgement”.
He added: “There are aspects of David Boyd’s history that will have no doubt appalled you. That’s understandable but that must not stray into prejudice. The details of those previous matters don’t help you to decide the real issue in this case, we say – was it him?”
Referring to prosecutors saying police back in the 90s adopted a blinkered approach in charging an innocent man with Nikki’s murder, Mr Pitter said: “The second area we agree with the prosecution is an acceptance they have adopted something of a blinkered approach. They said that stopped after the acquittal of George Heron.
“We say the blinkers have very much stayed on but the blinkered gaze has shifted, this time to David Boyd. We say such a blinkered approach ignores the complete body of evidence.
“We say you should reach the conclusion it was somebody else and if that might be right, David Boyd is not guilty. We say the blinkers remain on.”
Mr Pitter added: “When the prosecution say, with force and the attractive charm of (prosecutor) Mr Wright, you can be sure David Boyd was the man who took her into the Old Exchange building, you can be sure that’s not the first time that assertion has been made – the difference then it was in respect of George Heron.
“It highlights how careful you have to be and that kind of assertion, attractively packaged as it might be. Just because they say it could, doesn’t mean they are right. You have to follow your own assessment.
“You have to ask yourself are you sure it was him because that’s what this case is about.
“This case is based on entirely circumstantial evidence.”
Mr Pitter added: “It’s not for him after all these years to prove his case that it was not him. He is disarmed by the passage of time and therefore at a serious disadvantage when it comes to recollecting precise details and the possibility to get evidence to prove it was not him, if he was able to get it.
“Evidence he was at home, perhaps – did someone see him there – well he can’t check that. Evidence he went to the fish and chip shop, CCTV, which is not available now. Evidence he went to do community service the following day and that’s why (a man) told him to go to bed. Those things are not available, which might have helped his case.”
Mr Pitter continued: “It’s for the prosecution to make you sure the strands of evidence and inferences are not just reasonable, don’t just create the suspicion, but prove so you are sure he is the killer of Nikki Allan.
“Absence the nudges and winks and theorising, they must eradicate the doubt, the possibility, it might have been someone else.
“You have to decide whether it was him. Whether you are sure it was him – not probably, not likely, not suspect, not any of those. And if it is any of those things, he is not guilty.
“And we urge you to take off the blinkers and reach that conclusion.”
Mrs Justice Lambert has begun summing up the case to the jury, who are expected to retire to begin their deliberations on Friday.
Boyd, of Stockton, denies murder. The trial continues.
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