Rikki Neave's family launch petition over 'lenient' 15-year sentence for killer James Watson

James Watson was found guilty of the murder of Rikki Neave after a three-month trial.
Credit: Cambridgeshire Police
James Watson was sentenced for the murder of Rikki Neave.

The family of murdered schoolboy Rikki Neave have launched a petition calling for his killer's 15-year prison sentence to be extended.

James Watson was 13 when he lured the six-year-old Rikki into woods near his home in Peterborough on 28 November 1994.

He strangled the boy from behind using either a ligature or his own anorak zip, and then posed his naked body in a star shape.

Rikki's family waited nearly three decades for justice until eventually Watson was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years by Mrs Justice McGowan at the Old Bailey on 24 June.

The judge had previously said that Watson - now 41 - would be sentenced as a 13-year-old, because that was the age he was when he committed the crime.

Watson will serve the minimum term of 15 years, minus the little over two years he has already spent in custody, but the Parole Board must be satisfied that he no longer presents a risk to the public before he can be released.

Rikki's family - including his sisters, who live in Leicester and March in Cambridgeshire - believes his sentence is "too lenient" and that not all factors were taken into account when Watson was sentenced as a child. The family have launched a petition on Change.org calling for it to be reviewed and extended.

The family said on Change.org: "On the 24th of June 2022 James Watson was sentenced to 15 years minus 843 days for killing our brother Rikki Neave. We are trying to get enough people to write to the attorney general to get Watson's sentence extended.

"He was sentenced as a child. We are fully aware that he was 13 at the time of the crime but there are a lot of facts we don’t feel have been taken into consideration. James Watson evaded justice for over 27 years.

"This killer shouldn’t have been allowed to have been sentenced as a child. Me and my other siblings all suffer with mental health problems due to this.

"I really feel that the sentence given was far too lenient and that he will always be a danger to young children and young men and, of course, members of the public.

"As he stood in court he had absolutely no remorse or emotion towards the whole court case and even the sentencing rolling his eyes and smirking when members of our family read their victim statements."

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