Rikki Neave: James Watson guilty of schoolboy’s 1994 murderon April 21, 2022 at 1:43 pm

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James Watson is found guilty of murdering six-year-old Rikki Neave in Peterborough.

A family photograph of six-year-old Rikki Neave

Image source, Cambs Police

A man has been found guilty of murdering six-year-old Rikki Neave 28 years ago.

The schoolboy disappeared on 28 November 1994 and his body was found in woods near his Peterborough home the following day.

He had been strangled and his naked body deliberately posed in a star shape by his killer.

James Watson, now 41 but 13 at the time of Rikki’s death, was found guilty by jurors at the Old Bailey in London.

He was the second person to stand trial for Rikki’s murder, after the boy’s mother Ruth Neave was cleared by a jury in 1996.

Watson was convicted after jurors were given a majority verdict direction by judge Mrs Justice McGowan.

After the verdict, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the conviction “concludes an appalling unsolved crime almost 30 years after it happened. It brings justice for Rikki.”

A cold case investigation into Rikki’s murder was opened in 2015.

Adhesive tapings from his clothes were examined and a DNA match to Watson was made.

Watson claimed he may have lifted Rikki to help him see over a fence, but police found archive TV footage showing there was no fence at the time.

James Watson photographed in front of a beach

Image source, Facebook

While on bail following his arrest in 2016, Watson left the UK in a motorhome via the Dover ferry port with another bail hostel resident.

He contacted his sister from France and she told the trial that Watson said he “was in a lot of trouble and he had made a huge mistake”.

Watson was re-arrested near the British Embassy in Lisbon and was brought back to the UK.


Image source, PA Media

Clare Forsdike, a senior crown prosecutor at the CPS, said: “It has been like a jigsaw puzzle with each piece of evidence not enough by itself, but when put together creating a clear and compelling picture of why James Watson had to be the killer.

“Ultimately a combination of evidence from DNA, post-mortem, soil samples, eyewitness testimony, and his changing accounts proved overwhelming.

“Only James Watson knows why he did it. He remained silent for two decades and then put Rikki’s family through the agony of a trial.”

Jurors were told that during the prosecution of Ms Neave, incorrect weight was given to sightings of Rikki, at a time when reliable evidence showed he was already dead.

“This fundamental error deflected the focus of attention of the investigation,” prosecutor John Price QC said.

She was cleared of his murder, but jailed for child cruelty – a charge she subsequently claimed to have been “bullied” into admitting.

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