Man, 36, suspected of murdering six-year-old Rikki Neave released from police bail.
PUBLISHED: 19:01 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 19:01 26 October 2017
A 36-year-old man suspected of murdering six-year-old Rikki Neave has been released from police bail.
James Watson, from the Peterborough area, has been held in prison since August 2016 after returning from Portugal after he fled the UK.
Watson had been arrested and bailed on suspicion of murder in April 2016 but left the country and was extradited from Portugal in August, 2016.
Detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire major crimes unit travelled to Lisbon to bring him back to this country.
A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) “continue to review all materials gathered by police.
“The 36-year-old man arrested in connection with the offence no longer remains on police bail at this time”.
Watson was on a lifetime prison licence for burning down a British Transport Police station in Peterborough when he was arrested and questioned on suspicion of his murder of Rikki.
Police and the CPS continue to liaise over whether there is sufficient evidence to bring charges in the murder case that was re-opened following a campaign by the Cambs Times and Rikki’s mother Ruth and her husband Gary.
Senior officers have now told Mrs Neave they “appreciate this is an extremely frustrating time for you but please be re-assured that police and CPS continue to work together to review all of the evidence in this tragic case.
“The CPS received initial police findings, which were then further reviewed by Queens Counsel (barrister).
“This review and subsequent advice generated further work, which is still on-going at this time.”
Police and the CPS plan a further meeting on November 14 but have emphasised to Mrs Neave that “this is to review and discuss the additional work and determine its relevance to the wider picture.
“This may be time consuming so we cannot provide any clarity around timescales, other than to ensure you that all of the evidence is being fully considered by partner agencies involved.
“Until this work is completed, the CPS cannot make their final decision.”
Police also told Mrs Neave that they “appreciate this has been time consuming but you should be reassured that a thorough investigation is still taking place, with highly skilled lawyers reviewing the findings.
“Your family liaison officers remain appointed to you and you will be updated as soon as there are any developments but until such time, we cannot provide any further information unfortunately.”
Police insist “all lines of investigation have and are being pursued” but they have told Mrs Neave they are unable to discuss the strengths of any case which is the prerogative of the CPS.
Only recently Det Chief Supt Paul Fullwood, who headed the major crimes until his promotion to assistant chief constable, told Mrs Neave that “this will always be a really tricky case as it was many years old and high profile”.
He said that both he and all the team “really want to solve this case and bring justice for Rikki more than any we’ve ever been involved with previously”.
Rikki was found strangled near his home on the Welland estate, Peterborough, in November 1994.
His mother, who lived in March for some years before moving to Peterborough, was later charged but acquitted of his murder. She was sentenced to seven years prison for child cruelty – a conviction she is now challenging -and her children were placed in care.
Mrs Neave said tonight the stress and uncertainty was taking its toll on her health.
“I have to live every day as it comes,” she said. “It is heartbreaking to believe that police got so near to finding my son’s murderer but as each day, each week, and each month slips by it is getting harder to believe his killer will be found and brought to justice.”