In her first major TV interview, Ruth Neave says ‘I want justice for Rikki and after they’ve found the murderers, to live my life in peace and just be forgotten about.’

Ruth Neave being interviewed for the ITV Real Lives programme. Elme Hall Hotel, Wisbech, was used fo

Ruth Neave being interviewed for the ITV Real Lives programme. Elme Hall Hotel, Wisbech, was used for the interviews - the programme also features location shots in Wisbech and Milton country park. - Credit: PA

A woman who was cleared of her son’s murder has denied being cruel to him before his death - despite admitting to it at her trial.

Ruth Neave’s six-year-old son Rikki was murdered in 1994, and she was arrested for the crime. Although she was eventually acquitted of murder, she was given a seven-year prison sentence for child cruelty.

Rikki’s killer has never been found, and this year police – following an 18 month campaign by the Cambs Times- reopened the investigation into his death.

In an interview with ITV’s Real Stories with Ranvir Singh, which airs tonight (Thu) at 7.30pm, she denies being cruel to him by writing ‘idiot’ on his forehead. But she does admit putting washing-up liquid in his mouth.

She says: “A tiny bit, a little tiny bit [has] suddenly gone from tiny bit to whole bottle. Because he was swearing. And when I was a lot younger I had soap in my mouth. A tiny bit of Fairy liquid doesn’t harm anybody. No, I don’t think a little bit of Fairy liquid is cruel.”


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She also disputes allegations that witnesses saw him outside at midnight, crying, barefoot in his pyjamas, and that she locked him and his siblings in their room. She says:

“No, they never got padlocked in their room, and they weren’t like caged animals either. And I did feed them.”

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Rikki was last seen walking by himself to school on November 28, 1994. His strangled body was found in woodland near his home in Peterborough the next day.

Asked by Ranvir if she hit her son, Ruth says: “I smacked Rikki, yes. Not very hard. Slapped him around the legs, the hands, and his bottom.”

“I had to admit it. I’ve done my time, whatever I did and I don’t want sympathy from people I just want people to know that all I’m out for is to get justice for my son. I certainly ain’t going to admit stuff that I haven’t done, I really ain’t.”

She also says she wishes she could have kept Rikki safer: “I wish I did, yes. Yes, I’m guilty of that. I gave him too much freedom; I don’t know where my head was at. My whole life was going down the pan.”

When questioned by Ranvir on the judge’s comments that he’d rarely come across a case of such persistent and systematic cruelty, Ruth says: “Yeah, I know. It’s a load of rubbish. Half of the stuff, you wouldn’t believe what’s been said.

“I try not to let it bother me but it really does. It shouldn’t have been like that. Yeah I do care but I’ve got to learn to live with it.”

She also says she was relieved when police reopened the investigation into Rikki’s death earlier this year.

“I want justice for Rikki and after they’ve found the murderers, to live my life in peace and just be forgotten about.”

“I’ve had to live with this for twenty years. Went to court, got found not guilty, and I’m still being called a child murderer.”

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