Rikki Neave murder: Rikki's sisters launch campaign to review 'lenient' sentence of killer James Watson

Rikki Neave’s three sisters have written to the Attorney General asking him to review the length of the sentence given to James Watson.

By Ben Jones
Friday, 1st July 2022, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 1st July 2022, 11:22 am

Watson was jailed on Friday (June 24) after being found guilty for murdering six year-old Rikki in 1994.

He escaped justice for 28 years but was found guilty after a cold case review was launched in 2015. He was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey but will serve a minimum of 15 years.

The length of the sentence is largely due to the fact that he was sentenced as if he were a 13-year-old as that was the age he committed the crime.

Rochelle, Rebecca and Sheridan, the sisters of Rikki Neave.

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Before the sentencing, Rebecca Maria Harvey, Rikki’s eldest sister, addressed the court, she said: “Losing Rikki was like losing the other half of me. I still wake up every day thinking it was a nightmare. I never had a brother to grow up with.

"Rikki is the one who is not here and lost his life, but the effect this had on me and my family is just never-ending.”

One of Rikki’s younger sisters, Rochelle Neave added: “I was only three when Rikki was murdered and I was removed from my family. After I entered the care system I suffered severe mental health issues. I remember Rikki feeding me, washing me and helping me with my clothes.

Rikki Neave.

"He has missed so much of our lives, happy times that we have had. I also wonder what he would be like if he was still here but, sadly, I will never know because he was taken from me by James Watson.”

Now, after hearing the sentence, Rebecca and Rochelle, along with Rikki’s youngest sister Sheridan, have written to the Attorney General asking her to review Watson’s sentence for being too lenient. An online petition has also been launched and can be viewed at: https://chng.it/KvFT9tk4Z9.

Rebecca said: “On June 24, 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.

Rikki Neave's killer James Watson.

“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. He was able to live a normal life. He was released on bail in July 2016 for the murder of Rikki and placed in a bail hostel where he fled the UK in a camper van. He then decided to contact the press and flaunt that he had evaded the police once again.

“James Watson was engaging in adult behaviour at the age of 13. This we believe was a premeditated attack on our brother. He wasn’t a young child who made a mistake, he was a troubled boy who has carried his behaviours into his adult life.

“One of my main concerns is that Watson, even as an ‘adult’, chose to keep this from the police for 27 years. He chose to evade and try and sabotage and avoid any sort of police questioning even as an adult which he would also have known was unlawful and wrong to kill a child. Never once did this perpetrator come forward to right his wrongs; he did rather the opposite.

“This killer shouldn’t have been allowed to have been sentenced as a child. He will serve 12.5 years for ruining our whole lives. 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, 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 rolled his eyes and smirked when members of our family read their victim impact statements.

“If you feel like you could help by writing to the Attorney General- at [email protected] as a member of the public to help our case, we would be ever so grateful.”