Killer of Richmond teen must ‘think again’ about release following law change, say victim’s parents

Jenny Nicholl was 19 when she was murdered.

A man who murdered a Richmond teenager must “think again” if he thinks he is going walk free from prison without admitting his guilt and revealing where he hid the body, say the victim’s parents.

Brian and Ann Nicholl have spoken out following an announcement from the Government that they will adopt a law change which could mean killers who refuse to disclose the location of a victim’s body will be denied parole.

Jenny Nicholl was murdered by local man David Hodgson in 2005. Hodgson was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 18 years in 2008.

The killer has never revealed where he hid the body of the 19-year-old.

The change follows years of campaigning by Marie McCourt, whose daughter Helen’s body has also never been found following her murder in 1988 in a village near St Helens in Lancashire.

The law has been dubbed Helen’s Law in memory of the young woman who was 22 when she died.

Brian and Anne told Richmondshire Today that it was “wonderful news” that the non disclosure of human remains would be taken into account by the parole board under Helen’s Law.

Killer David Hodgson. Photo: North Yorkshire Police.

They have thanked Marie McCourt who they say has worked tirelessly for more than 30 years to achieve the change.

They added: “It will provide some comfort for so many families.”

The couple say they have never asked their daughter’s murderer directly for information, although they are aware the police have visited him in prison on a number of occasions.

They said: “We will never ask him as we feel it puts us at his mercy and may provide him with some sort of feeling of control.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence that led to his conviction, Hodgson has still not accepted responsibility for what he has done to Jenny and this new law will cause him some concern.

“If he ever thought that continuing denial would somehow lead to him walking out of jail after his 18 year sentence, to continue his sham of innocence, he must now think again.

“His continual denial indicates that he is still a danger to the public and any parole board hearing in the future must now take that into account.”

The couple said the change brought a huge amount of comfort to them, adding: “We know it will rattle him (Hodgson) and we know if he continues this denial, the likelihood is.. he won’t be going anywhere.

“We must thank Marie for her enormous effort and perseverance as this new law now offers some hope for so many families both today and into the future, who have been left in a state of flux, not knowing where there loved ones are and perhaps more importantly exactly what happened to them.”

Miss Nicholl disappeared after leaving her family home in Richmond on June 30, 2005 telling her mother she would not be back that night.

It is thought Hodgson, now 60, killed the shopworker during a camping trip later that night.

The unemployed gardener was convicted of murder after a court heard the pair had a relationship and would meet in wooden hides in the Sandbeck Plantation, between Richmond and Catterick Garrison.

Prosecutors suggested the relationship came to a violent end when Hodgson became jealous over his brother Robert’s growing friendship with the teenager.

The killer has refused to disclose how Miss Nicholl died or where he hid her body.

Miss Nicholl – a Jimi Hendrix fan – was a member of rock band No Fouling and played at the Richmond Live music festival.

The group made it to the final of the Battle of the Bands contest in 2002.