Who is James Watson? Man to be jailed today for murder of Peterborough school boy Rikki Neave

Watson faces a life sentence for killing six year old in 1994

By Stephen Briggs
Friday, 24th June 2022, 5:00 am

Nearly 30 years after killing Peterborough school boy Rikki Neave, James Watson will today be jailed at The Old Bailey.

Watson (41), of no fixed abode was just 13-years old when he killed Rikki in Welland in November 1994.

He escaped justice for 28 years – but was found guilty of murder earlier this year.

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James Watson, who will be sentenced today for the murder of Rikki Neave

What happened to Rikki Neave

Rikki was just six when he was killed by Watson.

The young boy left his home in Redmile Walk at around 9.30am on November 28 1994.

At about 10.30am witnesses saw Watson “playing” with Rikki in nearby Rotherby Grove. One described the pair walking off in the direction of the woodland side by side at about 11am.

At about 6pm Rikki’s mother Ruth Neave reported him missing. Officers attended his home and extensive searches were carried out in the area, supported by local people.

The following day at 12.05pm Rikki’s body was discovered naked in the wooded area off Eye Road, close to Willoughby Court – a five-minute walk from his home.

Later, his clothes were found in a wheelie bin.

A post mortem examination concluded that Rikki had died as a result of a compression of the neck – strangulation. It is believed he had been strangled from behind, using the zip from his coat.

Who is James Watson?

Watson was just 13-years-old at the time of the murder.

He was spoken to at the time of the initial investigation as a witness, where he claimed he saw Rikki briefly, but for no more than a few seconds and described no physical contact between them.

He claimed he had been at Walton School in Mountsteven Avenue, Gunthorpe, on the morning of 28 November, before leaving for the Welland estate. Records from the time showed he did not attend school at all that day.

He was jailed in 2009 after setting fire to the British Transport Police Station, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

He left the UK after he was interviewed as a suspect in 2016 and had to be extradited back from Portugal by the CPS who later charged him with murder.

He was charged with murder on 17 February 2020

What sentence will he get?

People convicted of murder in Britain are automatically given a life sentence – however, judges have to determine how long they must serve before being eligible for parole.

Judge Mrs Justice McGowan has confirmed this will be the case for Watson.

However, she will have to take into account Watson’s age when he committed the crime.

Following the guilty verdict, Mrs Justice McGowan said: “ He will fall to be sentenced for something he did at the age of 13.

“The sentence for murder is one of life imprisonment. I have to set the minimum term he must serve before he can be considered for release.

“It will be determined largely by the age he was at the time of the offence he committed.”

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