Once branded the “most evil mother in Britain”, Ruth Neave rom Peterborough says she will shun the media for its response to her first public appearance in the 20 years since her son’s murder to appeal for help to find the killer.
The mum of murdered Peterborough schoolboy Rikki Neave has vowed to stay silent after an anguished plea to the public to help find her son’s killer.
Ruth Neave (46), who was once branded “the most evil mother in Britain”, says she is furious at the way she was treated by the media at a press conference last Friday (28 November).
She says reporters seemed preoccupied with asking questions about her cruelty to six-year-old Rikki and her other children.
She also said the media was just intent on asking about her son’s murder.
In a message to the Peterborough Telegraph, her husband Gary Rogers states: “To have invited you all to talk about the murder of a six year old boy to find that none of you were interested in that was disappointing to say the least.
“Ruth will not talk to the media again, so as I have pointed out, you will only have one side and not the facts or the truth.”
Rikki’s strangled body was found lying in scrubland just 500 metres from his home in Redmile Walk, Welland, on November 29, 1994.
His mother Ruth was cleared by a jury of his murder in October 1996. No one else has ever been charged in connection with the boy’s killing.
But Ruth did plead guilty to five charges of cruelty to Rikki and two of her other children.
She was jailed for seven years at Northampton Crown Court for cruelty.
But at the press conference at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, in March, on Friday - her first public appearance and statement in 20 years since Rikki’s disappearance and death - Mrs Neave claimed she was innocent of the cruelty charges.
She said: “I didn’t murder my son. I have never abused my children. The police and social services have stitched me up.”
She told the media: “I was told to plead guilty to the cruelty charges by my solicitor.”
Asked why Rikki had been placed on the “at risk” register by Cambridgeshire County Council’s social services, she said: “It was because he fell from a bunk bed and cut his head.”
She said: “I am far from being the perfect mother.”
Mrs Neave said she had occasionally smacked Rikki on the bottom and tapped him on the hand.”
She added: “Rikki was a challenge and he wasn’t good all the time. I remember the joy he gave me in his short life.
“My Rikki was the most beautiful person I have ever known, he was sweet, cheeky, and full of life and mischief and he had not a bad bone in his body. I love him so much it hurts.”
Mrs Neave spoke of the “living hell” she had endured since her son’s death.
She also outlined “discrepancies” in some statements given to the police by some witnesses at the time of Rikki’s death and demanded a new police investigation.
Mrs Neave and her husband Gary Rogers (52) have paid £600 for the police’s case file on Rikki’s death to review the investigation themselves.
She urged the people of the Welland estate in Peterborough, if they can remember anything pertinent from the time Rikki disappeared - 6pm on November 28, 1994 - until the time his body was found about 6am the next day to call the police.
In particular, she urged people to recall two young men emerging from the woodland near Belvoir Way between 4am and 8am on November 29 and produced two sketches of how the men may have looked. The sketches were drawn by a witness during a police interview in 1994. The area was close to the spot where Rikki’s naked body was found. He had been strangled. A post mortem revealed the youngster had not been sexually abused.
And she urged police to investigate claims that a gang had sexually abused youngsters on the estate at the time Rikki was killed.
Mrs Neave said she had only moved to Peterborough after marrying Rikki’s father Dean Neave, who died later died in a car crash. She said: “I wish to God I had never moved to Peterborough then Rikki would not have been killed.”
Passage of time takes its toll on distressed mother
Clutching on the two crutches which now support her, Ruth Neave (46) walked painfully and slowly across the car park of the Oliver Cromwell Hotel in March.
She was heading for the function room set aside for her first public statement in 20 years since the murder of her son, Rikki.
Arthritis now bedevils her legs but perhaps it was a foreboding of the harsh, intrusive questions, she surely feared were coming her way from a press corps that also hindered her progress.
If she had concerns about the hour-long ordeal ahead, they were well founded. The first question demanded she deny being the killer of Rikki - a charge she had consistently denied 18 years ago during a two-hour spell in the witness box after which she was unanimously acquitted by the jury.
After that there came a flurry of questions about her cruelty to Rikki and her drug use.
The questions were a source of distress to Ruth, who snapped back angrily.
At times she waved her hands dismissively, occasionally she held her head in her hands. She often closed her eyes, tired of the torment.
Ruth has put on weight over two decades and has a hefty look set off with short, bleached blond hair. It is a transformation from the scrawny, lank, dark-haired Ruth Neave of 20 years ago famously pictured snarling at the media as she was taken away by detectives. Then she was a regular drugs user. It was claimed in court she had used Rikki as a night-time drugs runner.
It is a claim she denies. She claims she was “stitched up”. She has not taken drugs in 20 years.
The conference was an ordeal for Ruth and there was only one voice of comfort. It came from an elderly lady with broken English, who refused to give her name or allow herself to be quoted. She sat on the sidelines and urged the media to try and get into the head of a young woman 20 years ago struggling to bring up her young children.
Rikki Neave murder timeline:
Six-year-old Rikki Neave is reported missing by his mother Ruth at 6pm on November 28, 1994
The youngster’s naked body is found in a wooded area off Eye Road near the Paston Parkway the next day.
A post mortem shows Rikki died as a result of a compression of the neck and a murder inquiry is launched.
The investigation into his death quickly became one of the biggest ever handled by Cambridgeshire police.
At its height 125 police officers worked on the case with 700 statements and police interviews with Neave filling 1,000 pages.
January 9, 1995 - Ruth Neave is arrested at an address in Chatteris.
Eleven days later, she appears at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court accused of cruelty towards Rikki and another child.
Rikki’s funeral was held on February 14, 1995 at King’s Lynn.
May 25, 1995 - Ruth Neave is charged with the murder of Rikki.
She stood trial for murder in October 1996.
The hearing took a month to complete and afterwards she was unanimously cleared by the jury in the case.
But she was jailed for seven years after admitting five charges of cruelty to Rikki and two other children.
In 1997 a report by the Social Services Inspectorate raised “deep concerns” about Cambridgeshire County Council’s ability to protect vulnerable children and criticised staff for failing to protect Rikki.
Ruth Neave was released from prison in January 2000.
There have been three police inquiries into issues surrounding the murder investigation.
The first was in 2004, when police carried out a review of all unsolved murders.
The second was last year.
Police are carrying out a third review of issues raised by Ruth Neave.