Was Rikki Neave the victim of a ‘Bulger-style’ killer? That’s what his mum, acquitted of his murder, wants to know
An eight year old was stripped, turned upside down, and tied to a tree on the same estate where Rikki Neave was brutally murdered just six months later.
Evidence seen by this newspaper shows that a day after the attack, the boy made a 25 page statement to Cambridgeshire police providing graphic detail of the assault.
His statement – included in hundreds of pages of evidence obtained recently by Rikki Neave’s mother Ruth- reveals that six boys and one girl grabbed him off the Welland estate in Peterborough.
Only touched upon in the court during Neave’s trial, it now appears police had reports of this and another assault on young boys, on the same estate, and within six months of the murder of Rikki.
The man heading the murder hunt, Detective Superintendent Keith Chamberlain, had said prior to the arrest of his mother that he did not rule out the possibility that Rikki had been the victim of a Jamie Bulger-style abduction and murder; the Bulger case had happened less than two years earlier.
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During the 1996 trial at Northampton Crown Court – which acquitted Ruth Neave of murder- the jury had been told of an 11 year-old boy who had been tied up and stripped by a gang of five boys from the Welland estate.
However the second attack was not reported upon at the time but provides chilling testimony of how the younger boy had been tied up and molested.
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In his statement to police he said: “They pulled and they lifted me up and they ripped my pants: they put me upside down to see if I had any money on me. But I didn’t have any and they put me down. I kept falling, and they kept letting me go so I kept bumping the grass.
“After that they tied to me to the tree ….I broke out of the rope then (B) grabbed me and put me back near the tree and (C) grabbed me and put me back near the tree. Then (B) cut this kind of like wire, tied it round me so I could not get out and about a few minutes me later (B) let me go and I went home.”
The attack is alleged to have happened at 8pm on the night of June 9, 1994, and the victim describes how he was out “and these two boys were like being cheeky to me then they, umm all came and grabbed me”.
The victim describes how he had earlier been chatting with a friend about computers but at the time of the assault was sitting on grass near a lamp post.
“Then I walked over there and them that lot bagged and tied me to a tree,” he told police.
“They pulled my arms and legs, grabbed hold of my pants, pulled them and then I was hanging…..and they ripped them….they kept getting my legs and wouldn’t let me go.
“They stuck their hands down there and grabbed them and they pulled them so they came out and was hanging by just a strip.”
The victim describes how he was “struggling to try and get away” but then describes how another attacker carried out a sexual assault.
The police officer asks: “So (D) got his hands down your track suit and your jeans to pull your knickers out, right. So when he got hold of your knickers what did he do then?”
The victim replies: “He just pulled them a little, they ripped them they said; ‘lets check him if he’s got any money’ so they grabbed hold of me and then they kept going like that, shaking me up and down.”
He names two alleged attackers who he says were shaking him, grabbing his legs and tormenting him whilst he’s turned upside down.
The other group members were “laughing and watching.”
The victim says attacker (A) “tied me to the tree, put string round my neck and said: ‘if you break it this time I’ll put it”.
He continued: “Yea, then they tied me to this tree with a weak rope and then I just snapped it and went to run but was blocked. But there was still a big piece of the weak string and he tied it round my neck as well and you ‘if you move or if you break it I’ll pull the rope’
“But I didn’t break it, I just stood there and then (B) went and got some kind of like wire, cut it with his penknife and then he brought it back and then tied it round me and then (C) still had hold of the tope and then a few minutes later (B) untied it but when he was untying the wire, right, it was strangling me but I got out of that and that’s when he let me go.”
He describes how he “hands were tied behind me, tied round my back, so I was like that.”
He describes how during the assault how his pants were ripped “you could see my privates and my jeans had already been ripped and then the girl was looking at them. She was just staring.”
He tells police how he went home, told his mum, who went “all angry” and called the police.
On November 28, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Rikki’s murder, Mrs Neave is planning a press conference to appeal for new information.
Cambridgeshire Police recently promised to “re-examine” some of the issues raised with them by Gary and Ruth Neave; the couple hope a new publicity campaign will provide more detail for detectives to re-consider.
Detective Supt Paul Fullwood, head of major crimes for Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, who has recently met with Mrs Neave and her husband, told them last week by email: “I do fully understand why you would want to keep this in the public eye and it would be wholly wrong for me to advise one way or another.
“However I do hope you understand it would be improper and irregular for the police to be involved in a further press conference at this time; we would only do this if we were launching a major investigation or a new investigation as in this case and would be the same with any type of reward going forward.
“If you wish to do this then it will need to be co-ordinated by yourselves and the only thing I would ask is that you keep us updated as this will generate media interest.”
But he told them: “When we met we agreed we would revisit various areas that you and Gary had highlighted, I can tell you that work is underway to move this forward and see whether there are opportunities to consider a new investigation should ‘fresh, new or compelling evidence be apparent’.”