The families of two murder victims – caught up in what they have described as an “evil prank” – say they have been left disappointed by the police response.
Shirley Rice and Julie Nightingale were both angered and sickened after a plaque appeared on The Leas, in South Shields, naming David ‘Noddy’ Rice as Kevin Nightingale’s killer.
The sign also went on to name a man who is alleged to have supplied the gun.
Mr Nightingale, 33, was killed on the doorstep of his home in Drake Close, South Shields, in 1996. His killer has never been caught.
His killer was named by police as Allan Foster, who is still on the run.
If the police haven’t got the sign, then who has it?Shirley Rice
The plaque has since been removed from The Leas – but its whereabouts are unknown. An alleged slow response by the police to secure the sign has left the two families disappointed and annoyed.
Shirley, Noddy’s sister, was contacted by an officer yesterday – after first raising the matter with police on Sunday – and says she believes they are not in possession of the sign.
She said: “I’m annoyed by the simple fact I wanted them to take the sign and to check it for DNA and fingerprints.
“This is a sick prank. I thought they would have been a lot quicker off the mark, given these are both ongoing murder inquiries.
“If the police haven’t got the sign, who has it?”
She added: “This is evidence. For me it would have been the first priority to go and get it.”
The ornate sign – complete with a small statue of a black and white cat – was hung on the railings on The Leas at the weekend.
Julie, Kevin’s widow, said: “I’ve been in touch with the police and they said they would find out what was going on and if they had the plaque, but no one has got back to me. The whole thing is upsetting and has brought everything back.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Police have been made aware of a plaque being placed in the Leas area of South Shields in relation to the murder of Kevin Nightingale.
“The plaque has since been removed and officers are speaking with the family concerned.”
They made no comment on whether they have the plaque or the family’s claims it took three days to contact them.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 and quote log number 543 20/08/17.