Mother of slain schoolboy Ricky Neave has spoken of her struggles as the killer of the six-year-old boy finally faces justice after nearly 28 years.
Ut Neave said she felt like she had her “heart ripped out” when Ricky was killed as James Watson prepared for sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday.
Watson, now 41 but 13 at the time, was found guilty of murder in April after a jury heard he strangled Ricky in the woods before posing star-shaped naked for sexual gratification.
Ms Neave said she did not want to be present in court for Watson’s sentencing, but said in a victim statement: “Ricky was the most beautiful person in the world. I miss all his impudence, his laughter.
“Why would anyone kill such a beautiful child?”
She said the murder had a huge impact on her family.
Ms Neave said: “Like stones falling into a pond, it spilled all over the place.
“The murder of Ricky left a huge hole in our lives and in our hearts.
“I miss him so much that I feel like my heart has been ripped out.”
Police initially suspected Ms Neave of being involved in the 1994 atrocities, but two years later a jury acquitted her of murder.
Instead, she was imprisoned for seven years after confessing to child abuse, a verdict reportedly considered under contest, many years after her release from prison.
Ms. Neave, a mother of four, said she had not seen her other children since Ricky’s death and was wrongly suspected of the murder.
She said, “Yes, I yelled at him and cursed, but that never killed him, did it?”
She described her son as “very cocky” and said he “can’t stop making people laugh.”
The boy’s mother said: “He talked a lot. Ricky was my only son, my beautiful son with deep blue eyes. I fell in love with him the moment he was born.
“He was my little hero caring for others.
“Ricky was a quiet little boy and very smart.
“I was besotted as hell with the way he grew up.”
Ricky’s murder was one of the most high-profile cold cases in police files until Watson’s DNA was identified on the victim’s clothing after the case was retried two decades later.
He was initially questioned by police a few days after the Peterborough murder, but gave a false alibi.
Watson will be sentenced to life in prison, and Ms Judge McGowan has previously said the minimum prison term would reflect that Watson was 13 when he struck.
Rebecca Maria Harvey, Ricky’s older sister, broke down going to court.
She said, “Even though I was the eldest, it wasn’t like that because he took care of me.
“Losing Ricky was like losing the other half of me.”
Referring to Watson, but without naming him, she said: “After all these years of living … you will finally get retribution, and Ricky Lee Harvey will finally get justice.”
Rochelle Orr, one of Ricky’s younger sisters, said: “I was only three years old when Ricky was killed and taken away from my family. After I entered the care system, I had serious mental health issues.
“I remember how Ricky fed me, washed me and helped with clothes.
“He missed our lives so much, our happy times that we had. I also wonder what it would be like if it was still here, but unfortunately I will never know because it was taken from me.”