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Editor wins eight-year fight to get justice for murdered child

John Elworthy 1A campaigning editor has shared his “relief” after he helped to secure a child murderer’s conviction after 27 years.

Cambs Times editor John Elworthy has succeeded in his eight-year fight to get justice for Rikki Neave, who was found dead in a ditch in Peterborough in November 1994.

James Watson was found guilty of the child’s murder at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

John has now revealed the toll the campaign took on him personally – which included him being attacked by a family member.

Rikki’s mother Ruth was jailed in 1996 for seven years for neglect after admitting “appalling ill-treatment” of her son, but was unanimously cleared of murder by a jury.

John began his campaign for the murder case to be reopened in January 2014 after Ruth’s husband Gary Rogers contacted him.

He subsequently arranged a press conference to launch a fresh witness appeal and continued to put pressure on Cambridgeshire Police after detectives claimed there was not enough evidence to begin a fresh investigation.

But it took until February 2020 for Watson, who is now 41 and was 13 when he killed Rikki, to be charged, despite John’s continued efforts.

In his first-person piece for the Eastern Daily Press following the verdict, John recalled being contacted by Mr Rogers in 2014 and subsequently meeting him in a pub.

He wrote: “Ruth, explained Gary, distrusted journalists but surprisingly, on the steps of the pub, he asked if I would like to meet her. I assumed sometime in the future.

“Moments later we were outside his car, the window down, and I met Ruth Neave.

“Over the following days, in January 2014, we met frequently, mostly for dinner at a pub in Soham (which reminds me… I never claimed the costs back).

“Later that month the Eastern Daily Press ran the first version of my findings – across five pages.”

John went on to remember how the “long, arduous, challenging campaign” to persuade Cambridgeshire Police went on.

He added: “It has cost me, personally, much. My health suffered. I was stressed and worn out.

“But I grew fond of Ruth and Gary. And never wanted to quit – even when a family member threw hot coffee over me for ‘siding with that scum’.

“Now, with the verdict, in, I am simply relieved.

“That’s it. Since the jury went out, I spent nearly every day with Ruth awaiting the verdict.

“She is tired and exhausted but delighted that, finally, the truth can be told.

“She didn’t murder her son.”