Rikki Neave: Mum Ruth says son's murder at the hands of James Watson tore her family apart

Ruth Neave
Credit: ITV News Anglia
Ruth Neave said Watson had ruined her life, and those of her children. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The mother of a schoolboy who was killed more than 27 years ago branded his murderer "pure evil" as she described how he had torn her family apart.

Six-year-old Rikki Neave was strangled by James Watson, then 13, in woods near his home in Peterborough on November 28 1994.

He has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years.

Rikki's mother Ruth - who herself was charged and acquitted of the boy's murder - said the impact of Watson's actions had ruined her life, and those of her children.

In a statement released following his sentence - reproduced at length below - she addresses Watson directly and tells him that what he did left her feeling "like I have had my heart ripped out".

Rikki Neave's body was found naked and arranged in a star shape in woodland. Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

"The monster James Watson not only murdered my precious son Rikki but set in motion a chain of events that has ruined my life and those of my children. Like stones dropping in a pond, it has rippled out far and wide.

"Rikki’s murder left a massive hole in our lives and in our hearts. James Watson, you have no idea what you have done. But you do of course.

"You are pure evil, with no conscience. You never were nor will you ever be a match to my Rikki; he was delightful and beautiful both inside and out.

"How did you feel killing a six-year-old boy?

"Thanks to you, James Watson, Rikki will never grow up to be a nice young man or have kids or be an uncle.

"I miss my little Rikki; I miss all his giggles and laughter and he was my little hero and looking out for others. He was thoughtful, kind and funny.

"Our lives have never been the same since Rikki was murdered.

"Thanks to you, James Watson, I had my children snatched out of my arms in the middle of the night because the police were so adamant that I had killed Rikki and would then kill my daughters.

"We all lost each other and broke away and our lives fell apart.

"I lost my children and my liberty and then I had to start all over again still being labelled and called a murderer including by Rikki’s siblings. That’s what brain washing can do.

"My family was destroyed completely. I have not seen my daughters for over 26 years.

"I have missed them growing up, leaving school, their first boyfriends and now my grandchildren.

"I only have one family member and that is my husband.

"Because of my son's murder and what people have been led to believe neither my husband or I have any contact with our children or any of our other family members.

"I have been living under a cloud from the day you - James Watson - murdered my son. Until today.

"James Watson, you have been walking without a care in the world enjoying your life doing what you do.

"Justice has now caught up with you. The same justice I have been fighting to get.

"I have had to fight back when people have accused me of murdering Rikki.

"I have had little luck except for meeting my husband Gary and the journalist, John Elworthy. Both Gary and John have always believed in me.

"In 2008 we started on this road which has now ended here, and with you found guilty of my son's murder.

"It has not just affected me it has affected Rikki’s sisters all of their lives. It has deeply affected my husband and John was once confronted and attacked for pursuing the truth so doggedly.

"Thanks to you, Watson, I cannot hold, cuddle or kiss my Rikki. I miss him so much that it feels like I have had my heart ripped out.

"Thanks to you I have suffered a lot of illnesses, requiring a large amount of medication, because of what you did.

"And the pain, mental and physical, is with me daily.

"Thanks to you, Watson, I have suffered severe depression and anxiety. I have had years of counselling for these emotional and psychological conditions.

"From the first day until today I have felt exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally from anyone who believed that I had murdered my son. The son you murdered.

"Thanks to you, James Watson, I was labelled a murderer.

"I was also accused of neglect and cruelty of my children, and thanks to poor legal advice was advised to admit that and deny murder for fear, as the lawyers told me, I would be more likely to be found guilty of both.

"The truth about the neglect charges has not come out but it will. And you’re welcome to speak to me and find out how we now propose to tackle the injustices surrounding it," she said.

"Today has been about James Watson.

"And thanks to Paul Fulwood and the extraordinary team he brought together to solve this case. Paul asked for compelling evidence to persuade him to re-open the case that other senior officers had turned a blind eye to in the preceding years. We like to think we offered enough to re-open the case and bring the murderer James Watson to justice.

"Paul was, and is, an honest decent policeman and I can never thank him and his team enough."