A six-year-old murder victim’s sister today faced his killer in court and told him “you’ve finally got your comeuppance” as he was jailed.
James Watson, 41, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 15 years for killing little Rikki Neave in the woods near his home in Peterborough.
Rikki’s sister Rebecca Maria Harvey said her brother has finally received justice – three decades on from his murder on November 28, 1994.
Rebecca today broke down as she addressed the Old Bailey during Watson’s sentencing.
Addressing the killer, but not using his name, she said: “After all these years of living your life … you finally get your comeuppance and Rikki Lee Harvey finally gets justice.”
Paying tribute to her brother, she added: “Although I was the eldest, it wasn’t like that as he would look after me.
“Losing Rikki was like losing the other half of me.
“I still wake up every day thinking it was a nightmare. I never had a brother to grow up with.
“Rikki is the one who is not here and lost his life, but the effect this had on me and my family is just never-ending.”
She added: “I just cannot understand what happened or why.
“This has been so traumatic, not knowing what happened to him or why. Not only did I lose Rikki, but I lost my whole family.
“I miss him so much. All of our lives have been turned upside down and nothing has been the same since.
“After all these years, it is about time Rikki has justice.”
Rikki’s mum Ruth Neave was originally accused of killing him, however, she was acquitted at a trial in 1996.
She was convicted of child cruelty.
Watson was only caught when his DNA was identified on the victim’s clothes following a re-examination of the case two decades after Rikki’s death.
He was originally interviewed by police in the days after the murder in Peterborough but gave a false alibi.
The Old Bailey also heard a victim impact statement from Rochelle Orr, one of Rikki’s younger sisters.
She said: “I was only three when Rikki was murdered and I was removed from my family. After I entered the care system I suffered severe mental health issues.
“I remember Rikki feeding me, washing me and help me with my clothes.
“He has missed so much or our lives, happy times that we have had. I also wonder what he would be like if he was still here but, sadly, I will never know because he was taken from me.”
Ms Orr looked at Watson in the dock at points.
Mum Ruth did not attend sentencing today, although her victim impact statement was read out in court.
“Rikki was the most beautiful person ever. I miss all of his cheekiness, his laughter,” she said.
“Why would someone kill such a beautiful child? I know I smacked him when he was naughty, but I hated it. I could not tell him off without.”
“Yes I used to shout at him and swear, but that never killed him, did it?
“My Rikki was a little firecracker – I could not have wished for a better son, he was adorable. I love you with all my heart and soul, he was my soulmate.
“I had my children snatched out of my arms in the middle of the night because the police were so adamant that I had killed Rikki and would then kill my daughters.
“I feel dead inside, he was the only son I had. Rikki’s murder left a massive hole in our lives and in our hearts.
“I miss him so much that it feels like I have had my heart ripped out.”
Jennifer Dempster QC, defending Watson, said her client’s most substantial mitigation was his age at the time of the offence.
She also said there were “particularly sensitive matters” in Watson’s life – not aired in court – which made him vulnerable and he was taken into care in 1993 after being assaulted by his father.
She said: “The defendant himself was a victim at the hands of others.
“The defendant’s education and general childhood was affected by being let down by a variety of adults in his life who ought not to have done so.”
Ms Dempster added: “This was a young man – a young boy – who really had no stability in his life.”
She added that there was no evidence “in any way, shape or form” that Watson sexually assaulted Rikki.