Watson touched boy, 5, and once tried to strangle girlfriend, Old Bailey told

Rikki Neave

Rikki Neave: A 40 year-old man is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of his murder. - Credit: Archant

The man accused of murdering Rikki Neave indecently touched a young boy, tried to throttle a teenage girlfriend during sex and had  “dismembered” a pheasant, a court heard. 

James Watson was aged 13 when it is claimed he strangled six-year-old Rikki and posed him naked in woods near his home in Peterborough in November 1994, the Old Bailey has heard. 

Rikki Neave

Rikki Neave: James Watson is on trial at the Old Bailey for his murder. Watson denies it. - Credit: Archant

The case remained unsolved for more than 20 years until Watson's DNA was identified on Rikki's clothes, that were dumped in a nearby bin, jurors have been told. 

On Friday, a string of witnesses described Watson's behaviour as a youth. 

Allegations included that he indecently touched a boy of five, was suspected of masturbating over images of young children and repeatedly put his hands round the neck of a teenage girl during sex. 

Watson's former girlfriend told jurors how they met at a children's home at the age of 14. 

He would take a "survival kit", including a knife, when they went into woods for sex four or five times, jurors heard. 

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The woman said: "When James got excited towards the end, at the end part, he would have his hands on my neck and leave marks on my throat, more than once." 

She said it had a "profound effect", adding that he became "more forceful" as time went on. 

She confirmed that she had thought he was "trying to strangle" her. 

The woman said Watson threw a stone at a little brown starling, killing it, on one occasion. 

She said: "It was only a little bird. He laid it out and spread its wings on its back and plucked feathers." 

Afterwards, she said he put the dead bird in his pocket. 

Previously, Watson had lived at another children's home in March, between November 1994 and August 1995. 

Court sketch of accused James Watson

Court sketch of accused James Watson - Credit: PA Wire

The then-manager Jean Larkin, told jurors that a pheasant carcass was found in his room which had been "dismembered". 

Ms Larkin said: "I genuinely believe I saw feathers still attached to a wing, not just pheasant feathers." 

In a search of his room, she found catalogue magazines under his bed, the witness said. 

Ms Larkin said: "They were magazines that were related to children and toddlers, babies, in clothing. Underwear mostly." 

Asked why she thought they were there, she said: "I felt that there were further questions to be answered because of the type of material that was there, 

“And on previous occasions James had been overheard, and I believe overtly, masturbating, self-pleasuring." 

Earlier, the court heard of a complaint to police about an incident involving Watson and a five-year-old friend of Rikki's, dating back to April 1993. 

Reading an agreed fact, prosecutor John Price QC said that the five-year-old's mother had reported that her son had told her that Watson had touched his private parts. 

She said her son had touched himself while getting ready for bed and told her that Watson had done it to him. 

Mr Price said he also told her that James had asked him to touch his private parts “and James had liked it. James had told him not to tell anyone". 

The mother had said that the boy's genitals were red and a doctor confirmed there was a "slight abrasion". 

When the boy was spoken to, he said that he and Watson had touched each other. 

Watson denied touching the boy, explaining that he had shown him how to "shake" himself after urinating. 

Watson was told by police that the incident "would not be going any further although it would be held on records". 

The Housing esate where Rikki Neave went missing

The housing estate where Rikki Neave went missing and was ultimately found murdered., Welland, Peterborough - Credit: Terry Harris

Previously, jurors heard of a statement Watson's mother gave to police in 1995, detailing a phone call with her son three days before the murder. 

In it, she said: "James told me that a baby had been found over the dyke near Welland. 

"He wanted me to say if what he had heard was true. 

"I told him that I had not heard this before and knew nothing of what was said." 

Watson, now 40, of no fixed address, has denied murder.