Ruth Neave: ‘I am treated as a murderer and it has to stop. I am not going away until I get justice for Rikki’

Ruth Neave being driven past her former home.

Ruth Neave being driven past her former home. - Credit: Archant

Ruth Neave, the mother of schoolboy Rikki – who was acquitted of murdering her son but jailed for child neglect which she admitted – has broken a 20-year silence in a bid to find his killer.

“It is disgusting how I have been treated all these years,” she says. “I am treated as a murderer and it has to stop.

“I want someone who takes me seriously to help me to catch those who did murder my son. I am not going away until I get justice for Rikki.”

Mrs Neave was released from prison 14 years ago after serving most of a seven-year sentence and has remarried and is living quietly in a small Cambridgeshire flat but she says the memory of her son’s murder will never leave her.

Six years ago she met her husband of four years Gary and together they have pieced together hundreds of pages of witness statements and evidence which they insist justifies Cambridgeshire Police re-opening the investigation.

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Throughout last year they bombarded Cambridgeshire Police with requests to undertake a ‘cold case’ review which has so far been rejected on the grounds of “insufficient evidence to reopen the investigation”.

Ruth and Gary say the decision to go public with their campaign came only after two police officers explained to them late last year that unless fresh evidence was produced the case would not be re-investigated.

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“I am complaining about the harrowing events after my son was murdered,” she says. “How I was persecuted and mistreated and allegations galore tumbled out.

“Police at the time simply jumped on a bandwagon and because they didn’t do their job properly the murderer has got away with it for the past 20 years.”

Next month will be the 19th anniversary of Rikki’s cremation – and the following month would have been his 26th birthday. They are dates etched in Ruth’s mind.

“The murderer has got away with it, it’s a simple as that but I believe police could use modern day forensics and bring him, her or them to justice,” she says.

“I will never stop until the day they are jailed. I have lost my son and 20 years later his murderer remains at large. I am not the murderer, never was and never could have been.”

In many hours of interviews with Ruth, she has never sought to hide from Rikki’s troubled childhood, of the difficulties she faced with bringing up four young children, and of the fiery nature of her temperament.

It was that temperament, she fears that caused many of her friends, former neighbours and associates to give evidence to police against her in the lead up to the child cruelty charges being laid.

“All the allegations that were made were never from any of my so-called friends and they were never classed as my friends ever,” she says.

“The only two that I thought were acquaintances and did babysit made their allegations, hyped up their statements and actually lied, to my disappointment.

“I never got the chance to answer many of those allegations then, being persuaded by my legal representatives to admit the child cruelty charges while they prepared the defence against the murder charge,” she said.

“Innocent until proven guilty? Yeah right. I had a media judge and jury including the hangmen of the police and it seemed that the police were not happy unless I went to jail for the murder of my son who I never killed and never would.”

She added: “Some bastard murdered my Rikki and got away with it. I am living a nightmare every night and every day.

“Only the other day I was hearing what Lord McAlpine had said before he died. Remember him? He was accused in the press of being a paedophile but it was all a lie and he sued everyone in sight.

“But when he spoke to a reporter he said the trouble with English people was that they always went along with the belief that ‘there’s no smoke without a fire.’ Well that’s what happened to me but there was no smoke, no fire. I did not kill Rikki.”

She insists she was urged to “plead guilty to neglect and cruelty, so the prosecution could not say I killed Rikki through neglect.

“Apparently I stood a better chance of doing that so I could only be on trial for murder and I would have a better chance of getting a not guilty verdict.

“If both had been heard together, I would have got a guilty verdict of killing Rikki by accident and through neglect.”

Ruth said even to this day she still breaks out in a cold sweat when she discovers what was written about her at the time of her trial.

“There were so many lies, so much hatred it is unbelievable,” she said. “I was told one report said I had burnt Rikki’s neck with a cigarette but there was no evidence, ever, of that being so.

“I remember a social worker coming round one day and saying that’s what she had been told. I told her then to take a look and examine him. Do you really think I would or could do that to my son?

“I never ever heard of a burn on Rikki’s neck, until he died, the only allegation of burns were by my next door neighbour in March, before I moved to Peterborough and as I said earlier it was totally unfounded.”

Ruth says the post mortem – a copy of which we have obtained – demonstrates there was no evidence of sustained injuries “new or old, only rough and tumble marks associated with what kids get all the time while out playing”.

Another report, she recalls, was of an alleged incident in March “when I apparently hung Rikki off a bridge in the middle of town in July 1992.

“That never happened either but it didn’t stop the media reporting it or people seizing it like the vultures they are.

“The so-called witness who came forward to testify to that said she was horrified and never reported it at the time because she was scared.

“Well, if she did see it – and she didn’t – she could have phoned police anonymously if she wanted to.

“Do you really think that if I’d hung Rikki upside down from March Town Bridge in the middle of summer the police wouldn’t have been there in minutes? Or that others, perhaps dozens, would have seen it?”

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