Thursday, April 21, 2016
Mother of murdered child left 'speechless and numb' as police arrest a man in his 30s on suspicion of his killing - 20 years after SHE was wrongly charged
Cold case detectives investigating the murder of a six-year-old boy found strangled in woodland more than 20 years ago have today arrested a man in his 30s.
Rikki Neave was last seen leaving his home on the Welland estate in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, to go to school on November 28 1994. His naked body was found in nearby woodland the following day and a post-mortem examination found he had been strangled.
Rikki's clothes - including grey school trousers, a jacket and a white shirt - were later found in a dustbin yards from the wooded area.
If the man - arrested on suspicion of murder - carried out the attack, he would have been a child at the time of the incident.
A police spokesman said: 'He is currently in custody at a police station in Cambridgeshire.'
Rikki's mother Ruth Neave, 47, was charged with her son's murder but was later found not guilty by a jury at Northampton Crown Court. She admitted child neglect and cruelty and was sentenced to seven years in prison
Her husband Gary Rogers, 55, today said the couple were left 'speechless and numb' when two liaison officers knocked on their door to say they had made an arrest this morning.
Speaking from a hotel in March, Cambridgeshire - just miles from where Rikki was killed - he revealed he and his wife heard a knock at the door at 6.55am.
Mr Rogers, who is Ruth's full-time carer, said: 'At five to seven in the morning, to have two liaison officers standing on your doorstep after being woken up by them is a shock.
'They said "we need to come in and talk to Ruth". They very nicely insisted to come in, it was a case of "we do need to come in". 'So we got her out of bed quickly, put the dogs in the kitchen and went and sat down. 'They sat us down in the front room and told us straight away they had made an arrest within the last five to ten minutes.'
The couple, who live in Cambridgeshire, revealed they do not know who has been arrested.
Ms Neaves declined to speak, instead nominating her husband to comment for her, but looked sombre throughout while wearing black sunglasses to cover her eyes.
Mr Rogers added: 'All they told us is that it's a man in his 30s from Peterborough.
'We always hoped this day would come. We are speechless and numb, but it's a good day.'
The pair were not told if the suspect was arrested before or if he was known to the police previously.
Speaking about the moments just after they were told the news, Mr Rogers said: 'We just sat and looked at each other.
'It was surreal, that's the word I've been looking for all day, it was surreal. 'I always knew if I could get people to listen to the evidence which I've got in the files - we would get here.'
The couple hope advances in technology will help the investigation.
Mr Rogers said: 'The police are using 3D imaging, for the first time ever. 'They are able to take an image of the area at the time and regress it back to a point of time.'
This enables the police to recreate the woodland were Rikki was discovered and the shops where he was last seen.
Mr Rogers added: 'Our reaction this morning was total shock. We didn't know this was coming. This has come straight out of the blue for us.'
Mr Rogers met Ms Neaves eight years ago at Histon Football Club and the pair paid £600 for the police's case file on Rikki's death to review the investigation themselves.
Detectives from Cambridgeshire Police re-launched a fresh investigation into the murder inquiry last year following pressure from Ms Neave, who argued that her son's killer remains at large.
The new investigation found four possible sightings of Rikki on the day he was murdered, including two boys who were seen walking out of the woods where his body was found.
Police then released an artist's impression of the pair, who were teenagers at the time, because they wanted to speak to them in connection with the murder of the six-year-old.
The case involving Ms Neave's arrest caused a national outcry in 1995 after details of the horrific abuse Rikki suffered at his mother's hands became public.
She was once dubbed the UK's most evil mother after she admitted charges of causing child cruelty to Rikki and his two sisters, Rebecca, then eight, and Rochelle, three.
She was initially charged with Rikki's murder, plus five counts of child cruelty between 1986 and 1994, and a further drugs charge, but she denied them all at first. Ms Neave later changed her plea to admit all of the charges expect allegation that she killed her son.
During the murder trial, the court heard Neave had a fascination with killers and their minds, and that she had pleaded with social workers to take her son into care.
Jurors heard Ms Neave said Rikki was in danger if he stayed at home, and one social worker reported witnessing her threatening to 'hang her son from the ceiling'.
Another social worker said Neave threatened to kill her son the day before he was reported missing, and a witness reported seeing her walk 'hurriedly' towards the spot where his body was found on the day he went missing.
Lawyers for the defence said during the trial that a sex attacker who had not been found could have been responsible for Rikki's death.
They told the court that another child was attacked and tied to a tree five months before Rikki died, and said that a 10-year-old girl said she had seen the boy alive after he had been reported missing.
Ms Neave was cleared of murdering her son, but jailed for seven years for cruelty to Rikki, her daughter Rebecca, and one other child.
Following her release from prison in 2000, she and her husband Gary Rogers fought a bitter campaign to have the murder inquiry re-opened. Ms Neave called a press conference in 2014 to urge the force to reopen their investigation. She said at the time: 'I loved Rikki, he was a wonderful child.
'For the last 20 years, I have been going through living hell from the public opinion of me caused by all the lies.' Ms Neave added: 'I wasn't a perfect mother but I never hurt my children and I should never have admitted to those offences. 'All I want now is justice and for his killers to be caught.
'I know people out there think I'm a murderer but I'm determined to prove that somebody else did this to my boy.'
Speaking after it was re-launched in June 2015, she said: 'We've waited for far too long for this day. 'I am longing for the moment someone tells me they've found the person who murdered my son.
'My son died and that is unforgivable. The torment and heartache I have suffered in all these years needs to be put to bed properly for Rikki's sake as well as mine.'
Ms Neave added: 'It is torture for me, as I wake, as I go to bed - it's heart-wrenching and I am barely coping with all of this. 'All we want is justice for my little Rikki. I have been waiting for this for so long it kills me.
'There are a load of disturbing factors surrounding the case and I feel confident the police have been investigating every single one of them. 'I simply want the truth to come out.'
The arrest comes after officers methodically built a timeline of Rikki's last movements which resulted in a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction at the end of last year.
Speaking on the eve of the 21st anniversary of his death Detective Chief Inspector Richard Wall from Cambridgeshire Police said: 'We have had an overwhelming response from the public and have built a strong timeline of Rikki's last movements.
'Even 21 years on people still remember clearly the events leading up to Rikki's death and I would urge people to continue to come to us with any information they have.
'At the time of Rikki's death we know that drug use was common place on the estate and are keen to hear from any professionals who may have been helping people and given information about the murder.
'We are confident that we are closing in on those responsible for Rikki's death and it is only a matter of time before we have that vital breakthrough that leads us to them.'
Original report here
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Posted by bussorah at 5:47 AM