Man, 38, who was 13-years-old when schoolboy Rikki Neave, six, was found strangled in woodland near his home in 1994 is charged with his murder
- James Watson, of no fixed address, has been charged with murder
- Rikki’s mother, Ruth, was accused of his murder, but she was later cleared
- Tests showed Rikki had been strangled and his uniform was found in a bin
A 38-year-old man has been charged with the 1994 murder of six-year-old schoolboy Rikki Neave.
Little Rikki was found dead and stripped naked in woodland a few minutes walk from his home in Welland, Peterborough, on November 29 1994.
He was last seen walking to school at around 9am the previous day. Test shows he had been strangled and his clothes were found dumped in a bin 150 yards from his body the next day.
Today James Watson, 38, who would have been 13 at the time, was charged with his murder.
A 38-year-old man called James Watson (left) has been charged with the 1994 murder of six-year-old schoolboy Rikki Neave (right)
James Watson is pictured as a young boy. He is accused of murdering little Rikki at the age of 13
On Monday, the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit said James Watson, (pictured) of no fixed address, had been charged with murder
On Monday, the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit said Watson, of no fixed address, had been charged with murder.
He will appear at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Accused: James Watson is pictured as a child
Originally Rikki’s mother, Ruth, was accused of his murder, but she was later cleared of the killing and instead found guilty of child neglect and cruelty, and jailed for seven years.
Today she said she is feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘numb’ over Watson’s charge.
Ms Neave said the news had ‘not yet sunk in’.
She said today: ‘I am overwhelmed and in truth totally numb. This has always been about getting justice for my son Rikki.
‘I’d like to thank Paul Fullwood and his team for their work and effort in getting us to this moment. The news has not yet sunk in.
‘The courtesy and care shown to me by Mr Fullwood and his colleagues has exceeded by far the expectations I had.
‘Today’s news is welcome but it is only part of a much longer journey that still has some way to run.
‘It would be inappropriate to comment further but what I am looking forward to is a good night’s sleep. That has been lacking over many many years.
‘I would also like to place on record the love and support of my husband Gary. I cannot express fully how much I love him and the work he has put in to make the events of today possible.’
In 2014, police looked again at the cold case and began re-investigating in 2015.
Chief Crown Prosecutor Chris Long said: ‘Following the death of Rikki Neave in Peterborough in November 1994, the Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised Cambridgeshire Constabulary to charge James Watson, 38, with murder. Rikki Neave’s family have been informed.
Ms Neave (pictured in a selfie, left) campaigned for six years to get the case re-opened. She is seen celebrating with a local newspaper editor John Elworthy
‘This decision was made following careful consideration of all the evidence presented to us by Cambridgeshire Constabulary as a result of their cold case review and subsequent lengthy and complex investigation.’
Cambridgeshire assistant Chief Constable Paul Fullwood, who led the high profile investigation, said: ‘The cold case review into Rikki’s murder was undertaken by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit in 2014.
‘We began re-investigating the case in 2015 and following extensive investigative work, we have now been authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service to charge James Watson in connection with his death.’
Ruth Neave is pictured with her husband Gary Rogers
Timeline of Rikki Neave murder case
Rikki Neave was last seen leaving his home in Welland, Peterborough on the morning of November 28 1994.
He was reported missing when he failed to turn up to school that day but was found dead, having been stripped naked, in a wooded area near his home the next day, November 29.
His clothes were discovered on November 30 in a nearby dustbin.
His mother Ruth Neave was arrested in January 1995 in Chatteris and charged with child cruelty.
Months later, in May 1995, she was also charged with his murder, something she strongly denied.
She stood trial at Northampton Crown Court in October 1996. She admitted child cruelty but was cleared of murdering her son. She was jailed for seven years and released from prison in 2000.
In November 2014 after her release, she urged Cambridgeshire Police to re-open the case into Rikki’s murder.
In June 2015 the force agreed to open a cold case review.
On February 17 2020, James Watson, 38, was charged with Rikkis’ murder.
He will appear at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, February 20.