Sister’s TV plea to catch Noddy’s killer

BRINGING BACK MEMORIES ... Shirley Rice at the spot where her brother, David 'Noddy' Rice, was murdered.
BRINGING BACK MEMORIES ... Shirley Rice at the spot where her brother, David 'Noddy' Rice, was murdered.

THE brutal murder of David ‘Noddy’ Rice at a South Tyneside coastal beauty spot is to feature in a TV documentary tonight.

It’s been six years since the father-of-seven was gunned down as he sat in his Peugeot at Marsden Lea car park in South Shields on the afternoon of May 24.

One of his killers was brought to justice after Derek Blackburn, the getaway driver on the day of the shooting, gave evidence against Steven Bevans, who was accused of the 42-year-old’s murder.

However, Allan Foster – who police named as the chief suspect over the killing – has yet to be caught despite an international manhunt and repeated appeals by police for information on his whereabouts.

Tonight, Noddy’s twin sister Shirley will appear on a Panorama documentary about criminals who turn ‘supergrass’ in a bid to have their sentences slashed – and she hopes the show will help put her brother’s death back in the spotlight.

Bevans, formerly of Birtley, Gateshead, was jailed for life after pleading guilty to murder on the fifth day of a trial into the killing of Mr Rice held in 2007. Meanwhile, Blackburn. from Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, was handed a four-year jail term – receiving a lighter sentence – after turning supergrass, becoming the first person in the country to receive a lesser sentence in exchange for supplying information that led to the murder being solved. His sentence was later reduced to 
two and a half years.

Taking part in the programme also gave Shirley the chance to see a reconstruction of her brother’s murder.

The 48-year-old, from South Shields, said: “Nod being killed is something I live with every day and doing the programme did bring a lot of the old feelings back but it was something I needed to do.

“They done a reconstruction of his murder and even though I didn’t need to be there, I went down to see the reconstruction being filmed. It was devastating but I had to see it for myself – that’s just how I felt.

“The programme is about supergrasses getting reduced sentences but all I want is Foster caught.

“I still have mixed emotions about Blackburn getting a reduced sentence. I was asked how I felt about that and if I had anything to thank him for.

“If he didn’t have anything to do with the actual murder, and the police seem satisfied he did not, then yes I do have something to thank him for. As if it wasn’t for his evidence, it’s possible that Steven Bevans would not have been charged or convicted.

“All I want is justice for my brother and until they get Foster, I’ll never get it. I just hope the programme puts his murder back in the public’s eye and hopefully someone will come forward with information.”

The Panorama show delves into the world of informants, how the system works and whether new supergrass contracts will guard against the pitfalls of using such questionable witnesses.

Under the Serious and Organised Crime Act 2005 (SOCPA), supergrass deals are formalised, with serious criminals signing contracts with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to give evidence against their criminal associates. They agree to tell the whole truth, and as a reward, might have their own jail terms cut.

n Panorama: Return of the Supergrass is on BBC1 at 8.30pm tonight.

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa