Rikki Neave’s mother describes son’s murderer as a ‘monster’

James Watson was 13 years old when he lured six-year-old Rikki to woods near his home in Peterborough in November 1994.

21 April 2022

The mother of strangled schoolboy Rikki Neave has described her son’s killer James Watson as a “monster”, as he was found guilty of the youngster’s murder after 27 years.

Ruth Neave, 53, said Watson had taken her son’s future away from her and her daughters.

Watson, 41, was 13 years old when he lured six-year-old Rikki to woods near his home in Peterborough in November 1994.

He was found guilty of murder by majority verdict at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

James Watson court case
Rikki Neave was found strangled in woodland in Peterborough in 1994 (Cambridgeshire Police/PA)

Ms Neave was cleared of Rikki’s murder in 1996 but jailed for seven years after admitting child cruelty.

She criticised the original investigation, which wrongly focused on a theory that she killed her son and used a buggy to dump his body, and said that police and social services “totally ruined mine and my daughters’ lives”.

In a statement she said: “The only thing now is to close this chapter in my life and open a new one.

“I wonder what Rikki would be like today, married, children? Who knows?

“But this monster has taken that all from me and my daughters.”

James Watson court case
James Watson has been found guilty by majority verdict of murdering Rikki Neave in 1994 (Cambridgeshire Police/PA)

She praised jurors for making the “right decision” and thanked “people that believed in me and Rikki”.

“This is not the time to celebrate, as it should never have happened,” said Ms Neave.

She described police and social services in the original investigation as “framing me for my son’s murder”.

“Neglect and cruelty were used by these people to cover their own failings, information was gathered from liars, who gave multiple statements with many different versions of their lies,” she said.

“Statements were released to the media and I was not allowed to defend myself because of a gagging order from social services, so anyone could say anything and get away with it.”

In a statement released through police, one of Rikki’s sisters, Rebecca Harvey, said that “sadly” Rikki’s father, and her father, Trevor Harvey, “is no longer with us to see his son’s justice”.

“Nothing will bring Rikki back, but Rikki has finally received some justice today and we are all relieved,” she said.

“Although this day is a painful reminder of the loss we have all suffered, justice has finally been served.

“It’s the outcome we wanted.

“The defendant has been convicted, finally.

“We are grateful for this case being heard again, considering the complexities through to the end, and we would like to thank the jury and the majority of the police, who never gave up in the new investigation.

“Our Rikki – your beautiful blue eyes and cheeky smile will never be forgotten, and you will always be by our side.

“Rikki Lee Harvey – the best boy in the world.”

His younger sisters Rochelle and Sheradyn Neave said in a statement released through police that “Rikki has got his justice he deserves after so many years”.

“He can now rest in peace, and we have closure,” they said.

“We are glad nobody else’s family has to suffer at the hands of his killer and the streets will also be safer for our communities.

“It will never take the pain away from what Rikki suffered but justice has been rightly served.

“We love you so much Rikki, sleep tight little man, you will always be in our hearts and never forgotten.”

His aunts Sandra Chestney and Alison Harvey, the sisters of Trevor Harvey, said: “This is a day we feared would never come, 27 years is a long time to grieve without closure.

“Taking its toll on the whole family then and now.

“Sadly, Rikki’s dad Trevor passed away not knowing what happened to his ‘best boy in the world’, now they can finally both be at peace together.”

Watson will be sentenced on May 9.

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