Rikki Neave’s killer jailed for minimum of 15 years

A child killer has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years for the murder of six-year-old Rikki Neave in 1994.

James Watson was 13 when he lured schoolboy Rikki to woods near his home in Peterborough and strangled him to fulfil a “morbid fantasy” he had told his mother about three days before.

He stripped Rikki and posed his naked body in a star shape for sexual gratification, deliberately “exhibiting” him near a children’s woodland den.

His sentence was determined largely by the age he was at the time he struck.

The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan, said: “Rikki was a child too willing to trust and engage with strangers.

Rikki Neave was murdered by James Watson in 1994 (Cambridgeshire Police/PA)

“He never had the chance to be happy and lead a normal and fulfilling life. That opportunity was denied to him by his murder.”

Rikki’s murder was among the most high-profile cold cases on police files until Watson’s DNA was identified on the victim’s clothes following a re-examination of the case two decades later.

Mother-of-four Ruth Neave was cleared of her son’s murder in 1996 but was jailed for seven years after admitting child cruelty – a conviction she is reported to be considering challenging, many years after her release.

She did not attend court for the sentencing hearing.

In a witness statement, read on her behalf, she said: “Like stones dropping in a pond, it (the murder) has rippled out far and wide.

“Rikki’s murder left a massive hole in our lives and in our hearts

“I miss him so much that it feels like I have had my heart ripped out.”

James Watson, now 41, was found guilty in April of murdering Rikki Neave in 1994 (CPS/PA)

Rebecca Maria Harvey, Rikki’s eldest sister, broke down as she addressed the court.

She said: “Although I was the eldest, it wasn’t like that as he would look after me.

“Losing Rikki was like losing the other half of me.”

Addressing Watson, but not using his name, she said: “After all these years of living your life you finally get your comeuppance, and Rikki Lee Harvey finally gets justice.”


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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