IN November 1994, six-year-old Rikki Neave was found dead in the woods and it was thought that his mother Ruth was the culprit.

It took 27 years for the police to finally sentence the real killer, James Watson.


James Watson murdered six-year-old Rikki Neave when he was aged 13[/caption]

Who is James Watson?

James Watson is a 41-year-old prisoned for life – or a minimum of 15 years – after he was found guilty of murdering six-year-old Rikki Neave when he was aged 13.

Other than that, police found other evidence that he had previously touched a five-year-old when he was only aged 11 or 12.

An ex-partner of his also said that he sometimes strangled them during sex and when arrested for Rikki’s murder, he already had a criminal record.

This was because of an arson attack in 2008 at a British Transport Police station.

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Despite having his DNA found on Rikki’s clothes, the police chose to ignore it and blame the murder on the six-year-old’s mother instead – Ruth.

He also told police that he had “never been anywhere near Rikki Neave.”

They even ignored the fact that two teachers at the school said that he photocopied that front page of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, which had the case shown on it.

Paul Fullwood said: “This is somebody who showed an unnatural interest in the events – not something that an average 13-year-old boy would do.”

Debuty chief crown prosecutor for Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the east of England, Hannah von Dadelszen, added: “We also had… evidence to show that he had killed a bird and laid it out spread-eagled in a manner perhaps reminiscent of how Rikki Neave’s body was treated after his killing.”

The investigation was picked up once again by Paul Fullwood, who listened to Ruth’s calls about being wrongly convicted.

A wheelie bin was discovered in an underground car park at Thorpe Wood Police Station in Peterbrough, which had Rikki’s clothes in it.

The wheelie bin had been lost and never forensically examined and from there they found DNA of James Watson – who was seen playing with Rikki on the day of the killing.

When Watson was once again questioned by the police, he said that he was in fact with Rikki and that he lifted him up in the air to help him see over a fence.

The fence was in a development site, which the police re-examined when conducting further investigation.

But the police caught him out on a lie, as Mr Fullwood said: “That fence was not built when Rikki Neave was there.

“It was never built when he was murdered.

“So we were able to prove that James Watson was an absolute liar and a fantasist.”

Watson was released on police bail but panic took over him and that is why he decided to flee the country.

He first went to Rotterdam, then visited France and the Pyrenees before going to his final destination in Portugal.

During his travels he contacted his sister, Clair Perna, and told her that he “was in a lot of trouble” and that he “had made a huge mistake.”

He rang her once more to ask for help as he admitted that he was “in more trouble” than he had imagined and that he needed “to get back to the UK.”

The murderer was once again arrested near the British Embassy in Lisbon after he shared many images of he enjoying himself on his various visits.

What did he do to Rikki Neave?


Rikki Neave’s body was found in the woods in Peterborough[/caption]

When Watson was 13-years-old, he strangled six-year-old Rikki Neave.

Rikki’s body was found naked and in a star-shaped with his arms outstretched and his legs widely apart in the woods on the Welland estate in Peterborough.

No reason was ever revealed on why Watson murdered Rikki.

Although there are no signs of sexual assault, Mr Fullwood believes that this might have been to motive for the killing.

Mr Fullwood said: “The murderer strangled [Rikki], stripped his clothes and laid him out in this particular pose.

“We believe that is for sexual gratification and we believe James Watson did that.

“I think any death of a human being is tragic. It’s awful.

“But the death of a six-year-old boy in these circumstances is horrific.

“The family has lost their son, sisters have lost their brother, friends have lost their friend. It’s a tragic awful case.

“It’s a case, hopefully, that we will never, ever see again, certainly in Cambridgeshire.

“Also I’d like to think by bringing James Watson to justice will bring some closure for the family so they can move on with their lives and remember Rikki for the little boy he was in 1994.”

When was he jailed?

James Watson was sentenced for life – serving a minimum of 15 years in prison – on June 24, 2022.

The hearing took place in the Old Bailey in London.

Where is James Watson now?

James Watson is serving his sentence in prison.

He will be considered for release by Parole after 15 years.

The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan said: “The current minimum term for an adult convicted of this crime would have a starting point of at least 30 years.

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“All murders committed by persons under 18 have the same starting point of 12 years, but that must be adjusted to reflect a significant increase for all the circumstances in this case.

“The sentence I impose is detention for life at Her Majesty’s Pleasure and I set the minimum term at 15 years.”

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