Man, 40, goes on trial charged with 1994 murder of six-year-old Rikki Neave | UK news

The six-year-old schoolboy Rikki Neave was murdered 27 years in the past by a boy aged 13 with a “grotesque curiosity” in youngster murder who lied for many years to cowl up the killing, a courtroom has heard.

James Watson, 40, denies the murder of Neave, who went lacking in November 1994 and whose physique was present in woodland close to Peterborough the next day.

Opening Watson’s trial on the Previous Bailey, John Worth QC informed the jury that Rikki’s mom, Ruth Neave, was charged and acquitted of his murder in 1996 and it’s submitted that the choice to cost her was “flawed”.

It was in February 2020 that Watson, who had appeared as a witness within the unique investigation, was charged with the murder after a DNA breakthrough established he had been in shut bodily contact with the clothes Neave was carrying when he was murdered, the courtroom heard.


“In late November 1994, James Watson was exhibiting a grotesque curiosity within the topic of youngster murder typically, together with in issues mentioned to his personal mom,” Worth mentioned.

Rikki Neave
Rikki Neave {Photograph}: PA

“Instantly after the killing, even amidst the widespread native curiosity, academics of his famous in him a conspicuous preoccupation with the in depth reporting of the destiny of Rikki Neave.”

Describing the case as a “whodunnit”, Worth informed the jury Neave was reported lacking by his mom at 6pm on 28 November 1994.

At 12.05pm the following day, Rikki’s physique was discovered by PC Malcolm Graham in a wooded space on the perimeter of the housing property in Peterborough the place Rikki lived, 5 minutes from his residence, the courtroom heard.

Worth mentioned: “He had been strangled. The physique was bare. It was mendacity on the bottom, flat on its again. It had been intentionally posed by the killer, in a star form, with outstretched arms and his legs positioned huge aside.”

It was established that Rikki was murdered when nonetheless clothed, in what was “probably a shock assault” from behind, with the neckline of his personal zipped-up jacket used “as an improvised ligature”, the courtroom heard.

A single white shirt button was discovered perched on a leaf, 18 inches from Rikki’s left hand, the jury was informed.

At 9.30am the following day, 30 November, 1994 the lacking clothes was discovered by a police constable in a wheelie bin on the pavement exterior a home on Willougby Court docket on the border of the wooden, 150 yards from the place the physique had been discovered, the courtroom heard. Three small white buttons have been lacking from the shirt, Worth mentioned.

In Might 1995, Rikki’s mom was charged with murder of her son and offences of cruelty in direction of him and his sisters, the jury was informed. She pleaded responsible to the costs of cruelty however has at all times denied having something to do with her son’s murder, the courtroom heard.

Ruth Neave
Ruth Neave was unanimously acquitted of murder by a jury at Northampton crown courtroom on 30 October 1996. {Photograph}: Ben Kendall/PA

She was unanimously acquitted of murder by a jury at Northampton crown courtroom on 30 October 1996, Worth mentioned.

A chilly case evaluation was opened in 2015 and utilizing strategies not obtainable within the mid-Nineteen Nineties, scientific examination was taken of adhesive tapings utilized in 1994 to the outer layer of Rikki’s clothes, the courtroom heard.

The outcomes revealed hint proof of DNA of its wearer, Rikki, and of different folks, together with a definitive match with the DNA profile of Watson, who was 13 on the time and is now of no fastened abode, the jury was informed.


On the morning of the day Rikki was reported lacking, Watson and the boy had been seen with one another, the jury was informed. When police first got here to see him, Watson admitted he had met with Rikki on that day however made no point out of any bodily contact, the courtroom heard.

The jury heard Watson informed police Rikki was not somebody he knew. “This was not true,” Worth mentioned. “He knew him nicely. It was one of many lies James Watson is alleged to have informed others about occasions on the Monday he had met Rikki Neave and Rikki Neave had gone lacking. He was nonetheless doing so, when questioned beneath warning by the police 22 years later, in April 2016.”

Witnesses noticed Watson and Rikki enjoying collectively on the morning of the boy’s disappearance, whereas others noticed the pair strolling away collectively within the route of the wooden the place Rikki was discovered, the courtroom heard.

For the primary time, in 2016 Watson launched a component of harmless bodily contact between him and Rikki in his account of what occurred, the jury was informed.

The trial is anticipate to final eight weeks.

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