Rikki Neave murder: Sisters hail victory as killer James Watson 'thought he'd got away with it'

  • Rikki Neave's sisters spoke to ITV News after his killer's conviction

Strangled schoolboy Rikki Neave's sister has called the conviction of his killer almost 28 years later a "victory" as "he thought he'd got away with it".

James Watson, now aged 41, was 13 years old when he lured six-year-old Rikki to woods near his home in Peterborough in November 1994, strangled him with his own coat and posed his naked body in a star shape.

He was found guilty by majority verdict on Thursday of the youngster’s murder following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Rikki’s sister Rochelle Neave, 30, was three years old when her big brother was murdered, and she said they had both lived in an abusive home. She and her younger sister Sheradyn Neave, 27, both from the Midlands, were later adopted.

Rochelle remembered Rikki as “so loving, so caring” and said he “would sort us food out when parents wouldn’t do it”.

Rikki Neave was remembered by his sister as a "cheeky" little boy Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

“He was cheeky,” she said. “He was so loving, so caring towards us. He would do anything. If there was no food in he would go to the shop, nick it, come back and feed us.

“He would make sure we were clean. He would run a bath. He was so clean, he loved being clean.”

She said it was a “victory” that Watson had been found guilty of murder “because he thought he’d got away with it for that many years and thought we were just going to go away and roll under the table”.

“We weren’t,” she added.

She said that when prosecutors felt there was insufficient evidence, she was part of a victim’s right to review to get the decision reversed.

“We wrote a statement saying how we feel this cold case needs to be solved,” said Rochelle.

She said she had felt “angry” when Watson had fled to Portugal, while on police bail, and shared photographs of himself in the sunshine.

“I thought ‘if you’re not guilty of murder, why would you run away?',” she said.

James Watson on the beach in a photo shared on his social media Credit: James Watson/Facebook

She said of her biological mother Ruth Neave, who was cleared of Rikki’s murder in 1996 but jailed for seven years after admitting child cruelty: "I can’t stand her.

"I can’t even look at her. The things that she’s put us through and our poor brother, how he’s been treated, how he was murdered.

"None of that should have happened if she grew a backbone and grew up and put us first, but she was putting herself first, she was putting our dads first, she was putting everyone else around her first before us and that’s the thing that hurts."

Rochelle said her biological mother would smack the children, adding: “But it wasn’t just a smack.

“It was a punch, or a kick, or a shove down the stairs. She would pull you by your hair. Smack you with the hairbrush if you didn’t want to brush your hair.”

Ruth Neave pushed for the investigation into Rikki's death to be reopened in 2014 Credit: ITV News Anglia

Her younger sister Sheradyn, who was a baby when Rikki was murdered, said: “I think what’s so tragic as well is the fact that he was just so small and so vulnerable and he came from such a bad home and it’s just unlucky that he’s come across (Watson).”

She said: “I don’t let my kids out of my sight.”

Sheradyn said she believed “a lot of the evidence” heard in Watson’s trial “was known in 1994”.

“I think we were let down by the police at the time, we were let down by social services, we were let down by everyone who was in our lives who was meant to care,” said Sheradyn.

James Watson in a custody photo released after his conviction for murder Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

She added: “We were always kind of pushed towards ‘Ruth has done it’ and that’s the end of it, basically.”

Rochelle said: “I’m just so gutted that he’s gone. I just imagine now, what would he have been like now.

“What would we all be doing now together, as we would all be together.

“It’s what that would be like now which we didn’t get a chance to do as someone took his life.”

Rikki Neave was strangled with his own jacket, the trial was told Credit: Cambridgeshire Police