Rikki Neave murder suspect returns to UK - he was brought back by police and returned to prison for breach of licence on separate issue

James Watson

James Watson - Credit: Archant

A suspect in the murder of Rikki Neave who went on the run has been brought back to England by officers of the major crimes unit.

James Watson, 35, and from Peterborough man, left the country whilst on police bail in connection with the murder and ended up in Portugal.

However he was later arrested by Portuguese police and detectives from the Herts, Cambs and Beds Major Crimes Unit flew out to Portugal to bring him back.

Police confirmed today he was brought back to the UK on Friday night and remain in police custody until Saturday morning.

He has since been returned to prison for breach of a licence in connection with a previous offence.


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Until he revealed his identity through a series of Facebook messages, Watson’s identity had been known only to a handful but in a series of messages and photos his name has been revealed.

Watson told how he fled the country making his way firstly to Calais via Dover before crossing Europe to Portugal.

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Watson was arrested in April of this year and given police bail to return to a Cambridgeshire police station on September 20.

Bail conditions including living at a hostel outside of Cambridgeshire (in Northamptonshire) and his movements managed by another force.

Police were made aware on July 15 that Watson had breached his police bail by travelling overseas and UK police began talks with police on the continent to locate him and ensure his return to this country.

Watson had been living in the bail hostel when he disappeared on July 15. He told family and friends he smuggled himself out of England in a motor home.

He said: “The best thing is I don’t even have a passport. I just walked out of our country. Me and a mate left the UK in a mobile home.

“Booked it on the ferry, drove on and that was that. No checks, nothing.”

In one of his messages he said “it has been the most stressful time of my 35 years. “I’m getting the sun on me and making some memories for dark days.” His photos have included numerous selfies of him sight seeing whilst others show him sunbathing on beaches – occasionally in the nude.

Rikki Neave was last seen leaving his home on the Welland estate in Peterborough on November 28, 1994. His naked body was found in nearby woodland the following day. A post-mortem examination found he had been strangled.

Following a campaign by the Cambs Times, the murder case was re-opened a year ago and in April of this year they arrested the suspect who was initially bailed to June 15.

The Crown Prosecution Service has asked police to provide further evidence ahead of any likely charge of the suspect.

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