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Appeal court decision ‘end of a very long journey of horror and tragedy’

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Ruth Neave described the appeal court decision to reject a bid by her son’s killer to have his sentence overturned, as bringing to an end “a very long journey of horror and tragedy”.

Child murderer James Watson will stay in prison to serve the rest of his minimum 15-year term after a panel of three judges dismissed his case at the Court of Appeal.

Watson, who was 13 at the time he murdered Rikki Neave in 1994, was convicted in 2022 after a trial lasting nearly four months: the jury deliberated for a fortnight before announcing their verdict.

James Watson loses Court of Appeal plea

Child murderer James Watson loses Court of Appeal plea

However earlier this year Watson was given leave to appeal by Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Goose and Mr Justice Bennathan.

The appeal court delivered their verdict at 10.30am today.

Watson’s appeal was dismissed.

Ruth said: “The news today brings to an end a very long journey of horror and tragedy. This is the end of a chapter and the start of a new one.

Ruth Neave arrives with husband Gary to give evidence into the murder of her son Rikki. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“We would like to thank Paul Fullwood, Jerry Waite, and Mick Flaving (Herts, Beds and Cambs Major Crime Unit) for all the hard work they have done to get Rikki and me the truth and justice after nearly thirty years.

“The dedication and many long hours Paul Fullwood and his team put in to Rikki’s case is much appreciated, and we will never be able to show our thanks enough.

“We would also like to thank Mr Price KC for believing in me and the police. He decided to take on the case when the CPS were ready to drop it. He and his teams dedication and hard work have resulted in a monster being jailed for the murder of my son.

“Finally, we would like to thank John Elworthy and the BBC for believing in me from the start of this journey.

 CambsNews Editor John Elworthy launches the campaign to get the 1994 murder of Rikki Neave re-opened. It began with a five page article in the EDP in January 2014.


CambsNews Editor John Elworthy launches the campaign to get the 1994 murder of Rikki Neave re-opened. It began with a five page article in the EDP in January 2014.

“John Elworthy said to me 9 years ago that if I was lying, he would expose me, but if I was telling the truth he would be by my side all the way. And he stuck to his word, thank you John.”

Ruth added: “Now Rikki can rest in peace, and I can start a new chapter and start living again.”

Her husband Gary said: “I never doubted her, and standing by her is what a husband should do. “This is all I have done.”

Watson’s lawyers had argued that loss and destruction of evidence had made it impossible for their client to receive a fair trial.

Part of the campaign to track down the killer of Rikki Neave included BBC Crime Watch

However, the appeal court rejected that plea today.

The Crown Prosecution Service had insisted that the case against Watson was water tight.

The case remained unsolved for a quarter of a century until a campaign led by his Ruth, Gary and I prompted a fresh investigation to be launched.

Those efforts, by the major crime unit of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire, led to the case being re-opened and 30 detectives assigned to the investigation.

 

 

 

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