Police have released a new picture of a fugitive wanted in connection with the murder of a man 15 years ago today as the victim’s twin sister issued a heartfelt plea for information.
The renewed appeal comes as Crimestoppers mark the anniversary with a £5,000 reward for anyone who comes forward to them with information which helps lead to the arrest of Allan Foster.
Popular dad David ‘Noddy’ Rice, 42, was shot multiple times at close range on May 24, 2006, as he sat in his vehicle at Marsden car park.
He had been lured to the area under false pretences, unaware of the events about to ensue.
After the shooting, two men fled the scene and the father-of-seven was immediately rushed to hospital but later died as a result of his injuries.
Police launched a manhunt to trace the killer and soon Allan Foster, a friend of David’s also from South Shields, was identified as the prime suspect.
It was believed he fled to Spain in the days which followed the fatal shooting and has remained one of the UK’s most wanted fugitives ever since.
Steven Bevens, of Birtley, was later caught and jailed for life in 2007 for his role in the murder, and driver Derek Blackburn, who lived in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire at the time, was also sentenced to two-and-a-half years for assisting an offender.
Efforts to trace Allan Foster – who will now be aged 45 – have remained ongoing.
Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Dodds of Northumbria Police’s Homicide and Major Investigation Team (HMET) is now heading the investigation and continues to work with the National Crime Agency’s International Department, the International Crime Coordination Centre, Crimestoppers at home and abroad as well as the British Embassy in Spain.
Today (Monday, May 24) on the 15th anniversary of the fatal shooting, David’s sister Shirley Rice has also opened up about the impact his death has had on her family as she asks those harbouring information to come forward.
She said: “It’s been 15 years since I last saw or spoke to my brother and not a day goes by where I don’t think about him or wish I could speak to him.
“It’s awful to think there are people out there who are deliberately keeping information to themselves which could ultimately give me and my family closure.
“If you know something please come forward. Think of where your loyalties lie, no allegiance should be that strong that it covers up for someone capable of causing so much devastation.
“It’s been 15 long years without my brother but I’ll never lose hope, and every day I wait for the news that the missing jigsaw piece has been found.”
Det Chief Insp Dodds added: “It is now 15 years since this fatal shooting took place but our investigation has never closed.
“Since 2006, we have been proactive in our attempts to trace Allan Foster and uncover exactly what happened in those moments before and after the shooting which tragically took David’s life.
“Our investigation has seen detectives scouring hours of CCTV, speaking with witnesses and uncovering other vital information, as well as working with our colleagues overseas to secure justice for the Rice family.
“We know the passage of time can change a lot of things – friendships, allegiances, even family ties. We believe there will be people out there who hold the key to our investigation and have information which can greatly assist us.
“So my message today is simple – if you know Allan Foster or have information which will help us locate him, please come forward.
“If you don’t want to talk to my investigation team, you can speak to Crimestoppers anonymously as they are also offering a substantial reward for any information which leads to Foster’s arrest.
“We will continue our investigation until we uncover his whereabouts but we will be able to give David’s family the closure they deserve a lot quicker if those with information come forward and respond to this appeal.”
When he fled the North East in 2006, Allan Foster was also wanted in relation to two other offences of conspiring to supply controlled drugs and also for the theft of a diamond.
He has previously featured as part of Operation Captura – a fugitives’ campaign run by the National Crime Agency, Crimestoppers and the Spanish authorities.
The NCA is also supporting the hunt for Foster, who also features on their Most Wanted list.
Ruth McNee, from Crimestoppers said: The victim’s family deserve to see justice for David. People may have known something but have so far been afraid to come forward. However, Crimestoppers as a charity independent of the police, is here to support you. We will take your information and no one will ever know that you contacted us.
“We have kept our promise of anonymity since the charity was formed in the late 1980s. Millions of people have trusted us and I hope you will too. We are asking you to be really brave and pass on any information you may know, however small. Please use our simple and secure anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org. Thank you.”
A direct line into the Major Investigation Room has been set up and anyone with information is asked to contact 0044 191 437 4999 or you can also upload information to the Major Incident Portal