Up to 30 detectives assigned to fresh Neave murder inquiry as mobile police unit opens ‘for business’ near to where body was found
- Credit: Archant
A team of 30 detectives put together to solve the murder 21 years ago of schoolboy Rikki Neave has been assured cost is no object.
Det Supt Paul Fullwood, head of the major crime unit that is running the new investigation – labelled Operation Mansell- said this represented only the “core team. “We have in the region of 200 officers that could be called in at any one time”.
He said that although the Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit that he heads “does of course have a budget you could say we have an infinite resource for a category A unsolved child murder.
“Morally, professionally and personally if there is any chance of bringing those responsible to justice then we’ll be doing it.”
Within hours of Det Supt Fullwood re-opening the inquiry into the murder of the six year-old boy, the first signs of that investigation were evident on the Welland estate, Peterborough, near to where Rikki’s body was found in November, 1994.
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A mobile police unit has been drafted into the estate and will remain there for at least another week – and possibly longer- to encourage people to call in with information.
“So far a number of people have already come to see us – we are very pleased with this early response,” he said.
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Det Supt Fullwood said everyone involved in the 1994 murder inquiry – from witnesses to police officers and social workers who provided statements- will be questioned again by his team.
“There may be people who for whatever reason did not give information to the police- and we are appealing to them to come forward,” he said.
A key issue during the trial of Ruth Neaves – who was acquitted of her son’s murder and has been leading the campaign to get the investigation re opened- was those who saw Rikki on the day he was strangled.
Many of those that came forward to say they had seen Rikki had their evidence dismissed as “ghost sightings” but Det Supt Fullwood is not dismissing any of them.
Several dozen people say they saw Rikki in the hours before his death and all are to be questioned again.
“There are a lot of people around who were children at the time but are now adults and we will be speaking to them, too, to find out what they can remember,” he said.
He said they would definitely be speaking to a paper boy who said he that he saw two youths leaving the wood where Rikki’s body was later found.
Det Supt Fullwood said: “One of the things we need to nail is that this is a new inquiry. From the outset we have clear ground beneath our feet and that means even those sightings discounted by the original investigation team will be re visited.”
He hoped many of those questioned at the time will contact his team to provide up to date contact details to save some time in tracking them down.
Rikki was last seen leaving for school at around 9am on Monday, November 28, 1994, from his home in Redmile Walk, Welland. He is believed to have been wearing grey trousers, a white shirt, black shoes and a blue coat. Rikki’s body was found in a wooded area off Eye Road, close to Willoughby Court, the following day - five minutes’ walk from his home.
A post mortem examination concluded that Rikki had died as a result of a compression of the neck – strangulation.
Det Supt Paul Fullwood said: “We strongly believe the answer to who killed Rikki lies within the local community and although people may have moved on in the past 21 years it is possible that someone in Welland could hold key information about this young boy’s murder.
“No unsolved murder is ever closed and we regularly review them in our specialist cold case team to establish any new lines of inquiry. The advances in forensic technology, the way in which investigations have evolved and the established three-force major crime unit, with highly specialised and experienced staff and officers, means we are in the best possible position to get justice for Rikki and his family.”
The man who led the original murder hunt is former Det Supt Keith Chamberlain, who later became assistant chief constable and now heads a security company.
He has only spoken occasionally about the murder, the last time on the 10th anniversary of Rikki’s death when he recalled being called to the murder scene.
“Rikki was laid out in a star shape on his back with no clothes on,” he said. “He was in a wood and he wasn’t covered over.”
“You can get hardened to things, but you can’t believe someone can do this to a child. “You accept people can get killed in fights or in disputes, but here was a boy of six who hadn’t had a chance in life.”
*If you have information, please contact police on 01480 425882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can give information anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555111