Murder of Rikki Neave

Rikki Neave was a six-year-old boy who was murdered on 28 November 1994 by a 13-year-old boy, James Watson, in Peterborough, England. In 1996, his abusive mother, Ruth Neave, was tried and acquitted of his murder. Watson was convicted of the murder in 2022 after new DNA evidence was found.

Rikki Neave
Born(1988-03-04)4 March 1988
Peterborough, England
Died28 November 1994(1994-11-28) (aged 6)
Peterborough, England
Cause of deathStrangulation
Known forVictim of murder


Rikki Neave was born on 4 March 1988 and lived on the Welland Estate in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England. On 28 November 1994, he was strangled by a 13-year-old boy, James Watson.[1][2] His naked corpse was found in woods next to the A15 road the following day.[1][2]


Ruth NeaveEdit

At the time of the murder, Rikki's mother Ruth was the only adult living in the family house. She was hated by her neighbours due to her drug addiction and poor parenting, including physical abuse, which attracted visits by the police and social services during the early 1990s.[2] Many neighbours believed she had killed her son, and the police treated her as the prime suspect.[2] In 1996, she was tried and acquitted.[1][2] She was found guilty of child cruelty offences and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment.[3][2]

James WatsonEdit

Watson was arrested for the murder in April 2016.[4] Watson was born on 1 April 1981 and was also from the Welland Estate. At the time of the murder he was 13 and lived in Woodgate children's home.[5][2] Watson had convictions for various offences, and when he was 11 he sexually assaulted a five-year-old boy.[5][2] Watson was briefly spoken to by police in late 1994.[2] Despite being aware of his homosexuality, when Watson was 15, he had a relationship with a girl who lived at Woodgate and they had a son.[5][2]

After his arrest, Watson fled to Portugal and was extradited back to the UK.[2] He was tried for murder at London's Old Bailey from 18 January — 21 April 2022.[1][2] Amongst other evidence against him was new DNA findings which revealed his DNA was on Rikki's clothing.[6][2] Watson was convicted of the murder and on 24 June he was sentenced to life by judge Mrs Justice McGowan, with a minimum of 15 years.[6][1][2]

See alsoEdit

Other UK cold cases in which the DNA of the perpetrator is now known:


  1. ^ a b c d e "Killer of Rikki Neave guilty of murder | The Crown Prosecution Service". Retrieved 2022-10-13.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n 24 Hours in Police Custody
  3. ^ Leishman, Fiona (5 July 2022). "24 Hours in Police Custody: Rikki Neave's mum talks of time in prison with Rosemary West and Myra Hindley". Cambridgeshire Live. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Rikki Neave: How killer James Watson was finally caught". BBC News. 2022-04-21. Retrieved 2022-11-13.
  5. ^ a b c "James Watson: The 'dangerous fantasist and compulsive liar' behind Rikki Neave murder". The Independent. 2022-04-28. Retrieved 2022-10-14.
  6. ^ a b "Rikki Neave murder: James Watson jailed for 15 years". BBC News. 24 June 2022.