‘Pure evil’ killer who killed boy (6) to fulfill ‘morbid fantasy’ when he was a teenager gets 15 years in prison

A “pure evil” child murderer has been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for the murder of vulnerable six-year-old Ricky Neave in 1994.

Ames Watson was 13 when he took the schoolboy into the woods near his home in Peterborough and strangled him to fulfill a “morbid fantasy” he had told his mother about three days earlier.

He takes off Rikki and erects her naked body in the shape of a star for sexual gratification, deliberately “performing” her near the children’s woodland den.

His sentence was largely determined by the age at which he was executed.

The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan, said: “Ricci was a child ready to trust and connect with strangers.

“He never got a chance to be happy and lead a normal and fulfilling life. His killer had refused him a chance.”

She said that her childhood was “a tragic one”, that she was neglected, “the victim of violent and brutal behaviour”, and only attended school at lunchtime so that she could have a proper meal.

Watson showed no emotion after the sentence was handed down.

The judge said he would be released only after serving a minimum period of 15 years – less than the two years he spent in custody – and once the parole board is satisfied that he no longer presents a risk to the public.

Ricci’s murder was one of the most high-profile cold cases on police files, until a re-investigation of the case two decades later identified Watson’s DNA on the victim’s clothing.

Ruth Neave, a mother-in-law of four, was acquitted of her son’s murder in 1996, but was jailed for seven years after admitting to child cruelty – a sentence she challenged several years after her release. assuming.

She did not appear in the court for the sentencing hearing.

She described Watson as “pure evil without conscience”, while police said he was “an imaginist, a compulsive liar” who showed no remorse.

In the statement of a witness read out on her behalf, Ms Neeve said: “It (murder) erupts far and wide as stones fall in a pond.

“Ricci’s murder has left a huge hole in our lives and our hearts.

“I miss her so much that it feels like my heart is broken.”

Rikki’s eldest sister Rebecca Maria Harvey broke down as she addressed the court.

She said: “Although I was the eldest, it was not because he cared for me.

“Losing Rikki was like losing my other half.”

Addressing Watson, but not using his name, he said: “After so many years of living your life you finally get your arrival, and Rikki Lee Harvey finally gets justice.”

Watson, now 41, was found guilty of murder in April by a jury that deliberated for 36 hours and 31 minutes to reach a majority decision after an 11-week trial.

Ricky’s body was found on November 29, 1994, a day after his disappearance.

Watson had drawn attention to newspaper coverage of the murder, copying front-page stories at the school.

He was interviewed as a witness by police the following month, when an elderly resident reported seeing him with Rikki at the nearby Wayland estate.

Her lying account was not challenged, as police incorrectly focused on the theory that Ms Neave killed her son and used a buggy to dump his body.

Prosecutors initially felt there was still insufficient evidence to prosecute, but reversed their decision after Ms Neve and Ricci’s sisters called for victims’ rights to review.

Key evidence included Rikki’s last meal of Weetabix, which fixed the time of her death around noon.

This meant that Ricky was killed shortly after he was seen accompanying Watson to the woods where he used to play.

Ricky’s muddy Clarks shoes also indicated that his walk in the woods was a one-way trip.

Police were aware of Watson’s sexual interest in younger boys, who had interviewed him in 1993 on charges of molesting a five-year-old girl.

An ex-girlfriend later said that he strangled her during sex in the woods and killed a bird and spread its wings in a horrific reconstruction of Rikki’s murder.

The judge said there was no evidence of sexual activity with Ricci’s body, although Watson had a “sexual interest in younger boys.”

In a police interview in 2016, Watson attempted to explain the presence of her DNA on Rikki’s clothing, claiming that he picked her up to watch diggers dig through a hole in a fence.

Watson, who has a long criminal record of convictions including car theft, fled Portugal while on bail on suspicion of murder, but was extradited back to Britain.

Former assistant chief constable Paul Fulwood, who led the investigation into the cold case, said mistakes had been made and that police initially “accused the wrong person” of prosecuting Rikki’s mother.

But he denied that the police missed the opportunity to charge Watson at the time.

He said: “It’s taken a long time to get to this point, but we made a promise that we’ll find the person responsible for Rikki’s death, and that’s a promise we’ve kept.

“Ricci was a little boy of six – he was a kind and cheeky man who was brutally taken in the most horrifying circumstances.”

Police said there was no evidence that Watson was involved in any other serious unsolved crimes in the area.