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James Watson loses appeal plea to overturn Rikki Neave murder conviction

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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 Peterborough in 1994, was convicted in 2022 after a trial lasting nearly four months: the jury deliberated for a fortnight before announcing their verdict.

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

Rikki Neave

Rikki Neave -photos from the family album. Copyright protected

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 mother, her husband 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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