James Watson: Rikki Neave assassin who strangled boy, 6, to fulfil ‘morbid myth’ jailed 27 years after killing

A assassin dropped at justice greater than 27 years after strangling a six-year-old boy has been jailed for existence.

James Watson was once 13 years outdated when he lured Rikki Neave to woods only some mins’ stroll from his house in Welland, Peterborough, on 28 November 1994.

The 41-year-old was once sentenced to serve no less than 15 years on the Previous Bailey on Friday morning after he was once discovered responsible in April of the homicide. The case had long gone unsolved for with regards to 3 many years.

John Worth QC, prosecuting, had stated Watson can be sentenced for the age he was once on the time of the homicide. The prosecution and the defence had been agreed the place to begin was once one among 12 years.

There was once “the clearest conceivable indication” of a sexual purpose in the way in which Rikki’s bare frame was once displayed, he added.

Watson throttled the boy from in the back of with a ligature or anorak collar, to fulfil a “morbid myth” he had informed his mom about 3 days prior to.

He stripped Rikki and posed his bare frame in a celeb form for sexual gratification, intentionally “displaying” him close to a youngsters’s wooded area den. Rikki’s frame was once discovered the day after he went lacking.

The court docket heard quite a lot of sufferer have an effect on statements, in the beginning from Rochelle Orr, one among Rikki’s more youthful sisters.

She stated: “I used to be most effective 3 when Rikki was once murdered and I used to be got rid of from my circle of relatives. When I entered the care gadget I suffered serious psychological well being problems.

“I take note Rikki feeding me, washing me and serving to me with my garments.

“He has overlooked such a lot of our lives, satisfied occasions that we have got had. I additionally surprise what he can be like if he was once nonetheless right here however, unfortunately, I can by no means know as a result of he was once taken from me.”

James Watson has an extended prison file which contains convictions for stealing vehicles and atmosphere hearth to a British Shipping Police station


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

She stated: “Even if I used to be the eldest, it wasn’t like that as he would take care of me. Dropping Rikki was once like dropping the opposite part of me.

“I nonetheless get up each day considering it was once a nightmare. I by no means had a brother to develop up with.

“Rikki is the one that isn’t right here and misplaced his existence, however the impact this had on me and my circle of relatives is simply unending.”

“I simply can’t perceive what took place or why. This has been so stressful, now not figuring out what took place to him or why. No longer most effective did I lose Rikki, however I misplaced my entire circle of relatives.

“I leave out him such a lot. All of our lives had been became the wrong way up and not anything has been the similar since.”

Addressing Watson, however now not the usage of his identify, she stated: “In the end those years of residing your existence … you in the end get your comeuppance and Rikki Lee Harvey in the end will get justice.”

Police to start with accused Rikki Neave’s mom of the killing, however she was once acquitted after an ordeal


Jennifer Dempster QC, protecting Watson, stated her consumer’s maximum really extensive mitigation was once his age on the time of the offence.

She additionally stated there have been “in particular delicate issues” in Watson’s existence – now not aired in court docket – which made him susceptible and he was once taken into care in 1993 after being assaulted by means of his father.

She stated: “The defendant himself was once a sufferer by the hands of others.

“The defendant’s schooling and normal early life was once suffering from being let down by means of a lot of adults in his existence who ought to not have accomplished so.”

Ms Dempster added: “This was once a tender guy – a tender boy – who actually had no steadiness in his existence.”

She added that there was once no proof “in any respect, form or shape” that Watson sexually assaulted Rikki.

Police had to start with accused Rikki’s mom Ruth Neave of the killing, however she was once acquitted after an ordeal in 1996. Alternatively, she was once jailed for kid cruelty offences, a conviction she has stated she now hopes to problem.

Watson was once spoken to as a witness on the time as a result of he was once noticed with Rikki at the day of his disappearance.

However his mendacity account went unchallenged and he was once now not regarded as a suspect till a DNA leap forward years later linking him to Rikki’s discarded garments.

Ruth Neave leaving Rikki’s funeral in 1995

(John Giles/PA)

Watson was once discovered responsible of homicide by means of a majority after an Previous Bailey jury deliberated for 36 hours and 31 mins.

Up to now, the court docket heard how Watson’s sexual hobby in more youthful boys was once recognized to police, who interviewed him over an allegation that he molested a five-year-old in 1993.

Extra annoying behaviour was once famous at Watson’s youngsters’s house, together with him masturbating over photos of younger boys in undies and preserving a lifeless pheasant in his room, the court docket heard.

The prosecution claimed it was once no twist of fate that, 3 days prior to the homicide, Watson was once the supply of a bogus radio document a couple of two-year-old boy being strangled.

Instantly after Rikki’s homicide in similar cases, Watson obsessed over newspaper protection of the killing, copying front-page tales in class.

Jurors heard that key proof within the case in opposition to Watson incorporated Rikki’s closing meal, of Weetabix, which fastened his time of loss of life at about midday.

It supposed Rikki was once killed in a while after being noticed with Watson heading to the woods the place he used to play.

The copse in Peterborough the place the frame of six-year-old Rikki Neave was once present in November 1994

(Alan Water/PA)

Rikki’s muddy Clarks footwear additionally indicated his stroll into the woods was once a one-way commute.

In a police interview in 2016, Watson tried to give an explanation for his DNA’s presence on Rikki’s garments by means of claiming he picked him up to take a look at diggers thru a hollow in a fence.

Prosecutor John Worth QC stated that was once his “actually giant mistake”, as police had been ready to end up the fence was once now not there in 1994.

Jurors had been informed Watson has an extended prison file, which contains convictions for stealing vehicles and atmosphere hearth to a British Shipping Police station.

Watson fled to Portugal whilst on bail on suspicion of homicide, however was once extradited again to Britain.

In his defence, Watson’s criminal workforce pointed the finger of suspicion at Rikki’s mom, which she rejected.

After the decision in April, Ms Neave thanked the jury for making “the appropriate resolution”, known as her son’s killer a “monster” however stated, “This isn’t the time to rejoice because it will have to by no means have took place.”

Further reporting by means of Press Affiliation

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