The mum of murdered Peterborough schoolboy Rikki Neave today (28 November) made a heartfelt plea for justice for her son - 20 years after his brutal death.
But Ruth Neave (46), who was acquitted of Rikki’s murder by a jury in October 1996, said she had been framed by police and social services.
Speaking publicly for the first time in 20 years, Mrs Neave told a media conference at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, in March, of the living hell she had been through since her son’s death.
She outlined what she said were 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.
And she urged the people of the Welland estate, in Peterborough, that if they could remember anything from the time Rikki disappeared - 6pm on November 28, 1994 - till the time his body was found - about 6am the next day - that they should call the police.
In particular, she urged people to recall a number of people emerging from the woodland near Belvoir Way between 4am and 8am on November 29.
The area was close to the spot where Rikki’s naked body was found. He had been strangled, A postmortem revealed the youngster had not been sexually abused.
His body was found 500 yards from his family home in Redmile Walk, in Welland.
And she urged police to investigate claims that a gang had sexually abused youngsters on the estate at the time Rikki was killed.
She said: “I didn’t murder my son. I have never abused my children.
She said: “The police have stitched me up.”
Although Mrs Neave was found not guilty of murder she did plead guilty to cruelty to Rikki and two of her other children and was jailed for seven years.
At the time she was also branded “the most evil mother in Britain” by some commentators.
Mrs Neave told the assembled media: “For the last 20 years I have been going through a living hell from the public opinion of me caused by all the lies from people that if they had done their job right this would never have happened and a murderer would have been caught.
“I have had to live with knowing that the world thinks I murdered my son, abused and neglected all my children and still have had a great life.
“I have lived with the fact that if on one day in November 1994, I had walked my son to school he would still be alive.
“As it was I was looking after my baby, had a bad night with her and nodded off.
“I have also lived with the public never knowing the truth and looking at me as a murderer.
“Let’s have a proper case review and investigation into the police, social services and all the others involved.
“What I want is that the truth comes out and maybe the people responsible for my son’s murder are found and pay for their actions.
She added: “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
She said: “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.”
She said issues she and her husband Gary Rogers have with the case had been presented to police.
She said: “I am hoping for a full investigation and I want a full apology.”
Afterwards, a police spokesman said: “A full and thorough investigation was carried out by police following Rikki’s death 20 years ago and a case was put before the court.
“Following a trial his mother Ruth Neave was cleared of murder but convicted of cruelty.
“We have had a positive meeting with Mrs Neave and her husband Gary and agreed to re-examine a number of matters they raised. This will take some time to do properly.
“At this stage there remains insufficient evidence to start a fresh investigation, however, this case will always remain open until those responsible for the tragic death of Rikki can be brought to justice.”
Meanwhile her daughter, Rochelle Neave, now 23, told the media: “Although I was only young I can still remember the abuse.
“I can remember her dragging my sister up the stairs by her hair and there was never any food in the house. She spent all her money on drugs.
“I don’t know why she’s dragging this up 20 years later. She should let it lie.
“She may have been cleared of murder but she was convicted of cruelty.”
Rikki had been on social services “at risk” register and there had been a history of abuse by Mrs Neave, who was a drug addict at the time, her trial heard.
Mrs Neave said her other children, who were all taken into care and later adopted, had been “brainwashed” against her and had frozen her out of their lives.
“If they want to talk to me, they know my number,” she added.
Steven Fox (45), was among a couple of protestors outside the hotel.
He said: “As a single dad bringing up two boys, I don’t think it’s appropriate that she’s doing this here.
“The local community still feels very strongly about what she did and feelings still run deep.”