James Watson, the latest suspect in the Rikki Neave murder case, is reported to be age 35 now. At the time Rikki was strangled in 1994, that would make Watson around age 13. In other words, it would be a crime committed by a juvenile, should Mr Watson be guilty.
Rikki Neave was reported to have attended school on the day he went missing, but he left the school at around 11am. According to the police, he was seen 12 times that day, though later this became 4 sightings. His mother, Ruth Neave, reported him missing by phone to the police at 6pm. He is alleged to have been seen playing with other children at 7pm. Rikki went missing on 28 November 1994. Sunset should have been at 15:52.
James Watson has a criminal record. In 2006, he had stolen a police car and police uniforms from Thorpe Wood police station. In 2008, he was out on bail charged with stealing £2,500 from his father’s home. He then broke into a British Transport Police base, stole uniforms, CS spray and seized cannabis, before setting the place on fire, causing £800,000 of damage and destroying 50 investigations in progress.
In 2009, Watson was given an indefinite sentence in order to protect the public, with a recommended minimum of 5 years. He served 6 years before he was released and was on probation, which required that he stayed in the UK.
In November 1994, Rikki’s body was found. His mother, Ruth Neave, was charged with murder. She was found not guilty, although she was sentenced to 7 years in prison on other charges, including cruelty to Rikki and his sister. 20 years after Rikki was murdered, Ruth made an appeal to find the killer, and the case was re-opened in June 2015.
Rikki’s murder featured in CrimeWatch on 16 Nov 2015. A main focus of the police was on two teenage boys. They had been seen heading in a direction compatible with going to the wood where Rikki’s body was found. They were pushing a child buggy in which there was a child who was too big for the buggy.
The next morning, two teenage boys were seen coming out of the woods at around 6:40am, as an unidentified jogger ran past them. The following e-fits represent the pair.
The CrimeWatch site is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/3Mnr8J5J6dVXdjQT00QScNL/rikki-neave-murder I can’t get the video to work, but that may be because I am outside the UK. There is a short segment at http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/rikki-neave-murder-police-arrest-7785548 that does work.
If this reconstruction is anything like accurate it raises obvious questions. Why were the police not looking for two teenagers in 1994? Why didn’t the e-fits get published earlier? Why did the police think the mother did it?
However, I am not trying to solve the Rikki Neave case, so it is time to turn to return to James Watson.
He was arrested, then let out on bail. Then the bail was extended to 20 Sep 2016. And then he travelled out of the UK. His probation officer stated that he was not supposed to travel abroad for at three years after his release from prison.
Watson claims to have travelled abroad without a passport, in a motor-home, by ferry. On balance, given a six year stint in prison followed by travel restriction, it seems likely that he did not have a passport. The route was from Dover to Calais. This suggests that the ferry operators were lax in not checking passports pre-departure, and the French authorities were lax in not checking passports on arrival.
It is difficult to claim that Mr Watson ‘fled’ abroad, given that he has been posting information on Facebook, has been in contact with the media, and the police have said they are communicating with him. In the English media I have read, the location is simply ‘Portugal’ with nothing to narrow it down.
But at least one of the photos Mr Watson has posted is so distinctive that anyone who has visited the spot would know it.
And then there is the motor home Mr Watson travelled in. That too is distinctive. I doubt that UK police would take long to track the owner, and I doubt that Portuguese police would take long to locate it.
Portuguese reporting of James Watson is a little more specific. It identifies the location of one of Mr Watson’s photos as a bridge in Oporto, in the north of Portugal. Given that James Watson and his partner are mobile, that does not prevent them visiting the Algarve.
What comparisons are there between the Rikki Neave case and the Madeleine McCann case? There seems to be precious little of real significance. The case appears to have attracted the attention of media around the world, though frankly, I cannot remember the case back beyond the recent news about Watson entering Portugal. Ruth Neave campaigned to have the case re-opened. CrimeWatch featured the case. Time will tell whether the Rikki Neave case has been solved or not.