Ruth Neave believes “discrepancies” in witness statements could help solve riddle of son’s murder

Ruth Neave case. Rikki Neeve.

Ruth Neave case. Rikki Neeve. - Credit: Archant

Major discrepancies in key witness statements are alleged by Ruth Neave, the former March woman pressing for the re-opening of the investigation into the murder of her six year-old son Rikki.

Ruth Neave case.

Ruth Neave case. - Credit: Archant

For two years Mrs Neave, and her husband Gary, have worked their way through thousands of pages of evidence used to by the prosecution when she stood trial both for the murder and for child cruelty.

A jury at Northampton Crown Court cleared her of murder but she received a seven year sentence after admitting child cruelty.

However Mrs Neave is determined that the killer of her son – found dead in a copse near to where he lived on a Peterborough housing estate nearly 20 years ago- is brought to justice.

Cambridgeshire police briefly re-opened the inquiry last year but closed it after claiming no further evidence had been found.

Now Mrs Neave has enlisted the help of MP Steve Barclay as part of a renewed bid to get the major crimes unit of Cambridgeshire, Herts and Bedfordshire to commission a major cold case review.

Following a meeting with Mr Barclay at his March office she has forwarded him some extracts from statements which she claims need further investigation and could help the search for her son’s murderer.

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“These statements show that the police did not properly go back through the evidence last year,” said Mrs Neave. “Had they have done so they would have discovered what Gary and I have discovered and that is the evidence of key people simply don’t stack up.”

In one of the statements sent to Mr Barclay – which Mrs Neave hopes will be forwarded to chief constable Simon Parr- she quotes a neighbour who, when interviewed soon after, says she was at bingo the night a hunt for her son began.

“But in a statement a day or so later she says she normally goes to bingo on a Monday but on that occasion stayed in all night because Rikki was missing” said Mrs Neave.

“At the time this discrepancy wasn’t challenged nor were those statements by others who said in one statement they drove her to bingo and then in another said they asleep had taking a gram of cocaine. It really is extraordinary that these statements remain unchallenged.”

Mrs Neave said despite the passage of years the moment when she heard of her son’s murder “remains with me every single moment. All I want now is for someone, somewhere – and that has to be the police- to concede that maybe me and Gary have read through and pointed out enough to make them take a fresh look at the case”.

Mrs Neave, who is disabled and lives on state benefits, has spent hundreds of pounds paying for statements from the original trial to be made available to her.

Both she and Gary spend part of nearly every day working their way through the statements and listing areas where she feels the police may have missed something.

“Another major area of concern are the statements made by my former husband Dean,” she said.

Dean Neave, who died in a mysterious car crash in south Lincolnshire in 1999, says in one statement he was at his home near Wisbech – in a second statement he changes it and says he was near to his former wife’s home and in the company of three others.

“Another big issue for me is the stated time of Rikki’s death,” said Mrs Neave. “I’ve looked through around 20 statements of people who testified to having seen Rikki in or around the Welland estate in Peterborough on the day he went missing. Almost all of these statements were discounted by police at the time as ‘ghost sightings’ since it didn’t fit the pattern they had established of putting me in the frame for my son’s murder.”

Key to resolving the case could also hinge on the pathologist’s report presented to the jury at the murder trial.

Both she and Gary have contacted experts in their field to work out temperatures on an hourly basis throughout the period Rikki went missing and when he was discovered to challenge the time of death.

“The time of death is critical to solving this case” said Mrs Neave. “I’m no expert but I do believe we have raised enough queries for this to be another issue that needs revisiting.”

Amidst the boxes of files Mrs Neave has put together are timelines created by her and Gary using statements made by police at the time showing where people said they from the Monday morning when Rikki left for school (the last time Ruth saw him) to midday the following day when his body was found.

“The timelines are, quite simply, staggering,” she said. “There are many people who couldn’t possibly have been in two places at once – I want police to work with me, not against me, in trying to reconcile those statements with what we know of the death of my son.”

In recent months Mrs Neaves’ other three children – who were either taken into care or adopted following her sentence – have been active on social media talking about the case.

“There’s nothing much I can say or do about what they now say,” she said. “They were very young at the time and there is nothing I can do to change what happened. However they know I didn’t kill their brother, they know someone else must therefore be responsible and given time, once the killer is found, I would hope there can be some form of reconciliation.

“Until then the campaign for justice goes on. Justice means finding whoever killed my son.”