The fight for justice for murdered schoolgirl Nikki Allan has moved a step closer as prosecutors are now considering the case.
Northumbria Police has confirmed that it has now referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service as a suspect arrested almost four years ago remains under investigation.
The progress was confirmed as it was revealed that the former Northumbria detective who has been leading the probe was set to appear in a reality television show.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “An investigation is ongoing into the tragic death of Sunderland schoolgirl Nikki Allan in 1992.
“A man remains under investigation in connection with our enquiries.
“The case has now been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.”
Nikki Allan was just seven years of age when she was found stabbed to death near her Sunderland home almost 30 years ago.
To this day, no-one has been brought to justice for her murder and the case remains one of the region’s most notorious unsolved slayings.
In October 1992, she vanished after leaving her grandparents home at Wear Garth.
Neighbours formed search parties in a desperate bid to find the little girl.
Tragically, Nikki’s body found in the derelict Old Exchange building a few hundred yards away, after her shoes were spotted outside.
She had been stabbed 37 times.
Yet nobody has yet directly faced justice for the killing.
In 1993, George Heron who was 24 at the time, stood trial for Nikki’s murder, but was cleared by a jury at Leeds Crown Court.
For nearly three decades sense, Nikki’s mother Sharon has campaigned for justice for daughter.
In April 2018, a new breakthrough came when police arrested a man on suspicion of the girl’s murder at a house in Stockton in Teesside.
The suspect was released under investigation.
At the time Det Supt Lisa Theaker was leading the investigation into Nikki’s murder for Northumbria Police.
But a year later it was revealed that she had left the force to take on a new role at Cleveland Police where she is now Assistant Chief Constable.
Northumbria Police confirmed that the unusual decision had been taken to keep Ms Theaker in charge of the probe despite moving to another force.