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Mother retraces son’s last steps for weekly’s video report

Rikki NEaveA murder victim’s mother retraced her son’s last known steps as part of a newspaper’s campaign to bring his killer to justice.

The Cambs Times has produced a special video report into the murder of Rikki Neave, which happened 20 years ago in Peterborough, featuring his mother Ruth.

The 21 minute-long video was designed, according to editor John Elworthy, to bring together the unravelling story of a call for the police investigation to be re-opened.

It also features stills from the original case interspersed with police video taken at the family home after the murder.

In 1996 Mrs Neave was jailed for seven years for neglect after admitting “appalling ill-treatment” of six-year-old Rikki, pictured above left, but was unanimously cleared of murder by a jury.

The Times’s campaign began in January 2014 when John received an email from Ruth’s husband Gary, her husband of four years.

Said John: “I held eight separate meetings with Ruth and Gary, each lasting from two to four hours, and decided to launch the campaign to have the murder inquiry re-opened.

“It was clear to me most police working on the case at the time believed the ‘murderer’ (i.e. Mrs Neave) had got off and therefore ‘case closed’.  I didn’t believe she was the murderer.”

Rikki was found strangled and dumped in a ditch 500 yards from his home in November 1994.

The campaign was launched with seven pages in the Cambs Times and five pages of fellow Archant title the Eastern Daily Press.

It continued over the following months and John also arranged a press conference to launch a fresh witness appeal.

He added: “The aim throughout was to find Rikki’s killer – many of our readers still cling to the belief his mother had killed him and the press conference, held in a hotel next to the Cambs Times, provoked a social media backlash both against the newspaper and the editor.

“However as more and more contradictions appeared the more I read through statements and trial documents.

“It was mentally and physically demanding and relentless since much of the campaign work was carried out at night times and weekends.”

Earlier this month Cambridgeshire Police’s major crimes unit revealed they are trawling through 700 statements, 456 documents and 902 messages “and more” as they re-examine the murder.

Police will announce by the end of next month their next stage.