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Rikki Neave murder: BBC Radio 4 major new investigation

BBC Radio 4 will offer new insights into the murder of Rikki Neave

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Rikki Neave: New BBC 4 documentary series 'The Boy in the Woods' Rikki Neave: New BBC 4 documentary series ‘The Boy in the Woods’

A 10-part BBC Radio 4 series beginning next week promises explosive new revelations in the Rikki Neave murder case.

Seasoned producers Winifred Robinson and Sue Mitchell have spent the years since the cold case murder was re-opened, researching the case, and conducting multiple interviews.

Now they will reveal their findings over two weeks in a new series beginning on BBC Radio 4 next week entitled ‘The Boy in the Wood’.

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A BBC statement explained: “Police built a case against Rikki’s mother, but this investigation uncovers how crucial evidence was never brought before the court.

“Ruth Neave was jailed for seven years for child cruelty while Rikki’s killer was left at large.

“The series exposes how this happened and what it took for the truth to emerge.

“Original police interview tapes, evidence from forensic scientists and others who have never spoken to the media before, help piece together what happened.”

In a trailer for the series, Robinson said: “Rikki Neave is the child of a mother who has threatened to kill him and asked for him to be taken into care

“A volatile woman with a temper she cannot always control.”

Ruth Neave case. Rikki Neave.

One social worker interviewed by her describes Rikki as “a very sweet kind boy with eyes that could melt you: he was adorable, but he also was unimaginable at times mainly due to Ruth’s chaotic parenting”.

The programme also hears never released tapes of when Ruth Neave was arrested, charged but acquitted of her son’s murder.

She is heard tearfully screaming to detectives: “I never murdered him, I never would”.

Robinson says that for nearly 20 years many believed Ruth had got away with murder.

“But then new evidence makes a lot of things look differently,” she says.

The Boy in the Woods describes how six-year-old Rikki Neave, had been strangled and left naked.

His body was positioned in a distinctive star shape.

Rikki Neave coverage in the EDP. Date: 31 Oct 1996.

People on the council estate where he lived told police they had seen his mother, Ruth, hitting and shouting at Rikki.

He was on the Social Services Register of children at risk.

“All the people closest to Rikki were in trouble and all of them were known to the authorities who offered help,” says the BBC trailer.

“It didn’t work.

“The day before he died his mother begged a family aid worker to take him into care, saying she would kill him.”

Robinson says she has been following this case for more than 20 years.

She says she has always felt it held the key to what goes wrong in the lives of society’s most vulnerable children.

“Police built a case against Rikki’s mother, but this investigation uncovers how crucial evidence was never brought before the court,” she says.

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Pictured with husband Gary Rogers. Ruth Neave arrives to give evidence in the 20 year cold case murder of her son Rikki. , Thursday 27 January 2022. Picture by Terry Harris.

Ruth Neave was jailed for seven years for child cruelty while Rikki’s killer was left at large.

“The series exposes how this happened and what it took for the truth to emerge,” says Robinson.

“Original police interview tapes, evidence from forensic scientists and others who have never spoken to the media before, help piece together what happened.

“Close friends of Rikki, who were themselves vulnerable children, reveal for the first time how his death came to shape all their lives.

“And as the net closes in on the real killer, who was himself a boy of only 13 at the time, how he goes on the run, taunting police from abroad.

“We hear from a teacher who alerted police to this boy at the time of Rikki’s death, noticing his obsession with the case.”

Editor John Elworthy (who led the campaign to re-open the cold case murder) with Ruth Neave and her husband Gary Rogers. The photo was taken in Whittlesey after James Watson had been found guilty of murdering Ruth’s son, Rikki

Robinson says: “We’ve recorded the first interviews with a family aid worker who was with Rikki, the day before he died and with a troubled teenager who was alongside his mother on the day he was killed.

“As the verdict is delivered, the jurors share with us how they weighed the evidence that convinced them they had looked into the eyes of a killer.”

In a recent ‘open’ letter to Cambridgeshire Police, Ruth Neave – recovering from a heart procedure – and her husband Gary Rogers remain critical of the original police investigation.

They have asked chief constable Nick Dean why he has not apologised for what happened in 1994 and 1995 when Ruth was wrongly arrested and charged.

“On 24 hours in Police Custody it was stated that the new team found no evidence to implicate Ruth in her son’s murder,” they say.

“That evidence showed Ruth only had a 45-minute window to have committed the murder, but the police manipulated and invented evidence to hide this simple fact.

“James Watson’s father told police he thought his son was the murderer but that did not fit in the ‘FRAME RUTH NEAVE TO SAVE OUR JOBS’ line.

“People lied time and time again, but again Cambs Cops used these lies to manipulate the ‘FRAME RUTH NEAVE TO SAVE OUR JOBS line.

“Police stated it was not a sexual crime, but the law then and now is very clear and it was sexual, but this would take the spotlight off Ruth and away from ‘FRAME RUTH NEAVE TO SAVE OUR JOBS’ line.

“Ruth’s daughter was sexually assaulted while in the care of Cambridgeshire Social Services, it was reported to the police and NOTHING WAS DONE, again it did not fit with the ‘FRAME RUTH NEAVE TO SAVE OUR JOBS’ line.”

Ruth Neave fought hard to find the killer of her son Rikki. His was murdered in 1994 in Peterborough.

They added: “Evidence was withheld and still is being withheld by Cambridgeshire Police from us that would show and prove the corruption going on at the time.

“The investigation and the actions of Cambridgeshire Police need to be investigated by an independent and public enquiry to get to the truth.

“The SIO in 1996 said that Cambridgeshire Police were not looking for anyone else in connection with Rikki’s murder.

“In 2004 the same SIO stated that it was like a Jamie Bulger style murder and that they had made mistakes.

“In 2014 Detectives Warren and Brunning looked at the files and made it clear in a recorder meeting that there was no evidence that pointed to anyone else other than Ruth.”

BBC Radio 4 – The Boy in the Woods

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