Secret recordings by Ruth from the day police called to discuss her plea to re-open Rikki murder hunt
PUBLISHED: 10:58 31 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:58 31 January 2014
Underpinning some of the anger of Ruth Neave’s protests to police is what happened last summer when two detectives visited her and Gary at their flat.
Unbeknown to the officers – Det Chief Insp Martin Brunning and Det Con Andrea Warren – their conversations were taped.
I have listened to that tape and read a transcript of the interview. In it Ruth is clearly heard raising her voice in frustration and anger on many occasions.
What is clear from the outset is that the time of Rikki’s death was never ascertained.
Det Con Warren tells Ruth that “there is no scientific way of pin- pointing an exact time”. She explained because of rigor mortis and other tests the only conclusive statement was Rikki “had been laid in that position soon after death”.
Ruth questions both officers about the police constable who said in evidence he had searched the area of woodland (where Rikki was found the following day) at 7pm on the Monday night and found nothing.
When police searched again at noon on the flowering day (Tuesday) Rikki’s body was found within two minutes.
In heated exchanges with both officers the couple explain that since Rikki was reported missing by his mum at 6pm and the wood where his body was found was searched an hour after that, then Ruth could not possibly have put it there since police and neighbours were then with her throughout the night.
Gary is heard telling them: “It proves then that moving a body in and around the estate was near impossible in the gaps you are alleging. Ruth is innocent with all the time gaps – she wouldn’t have been able to put Rikki there?”
Timeline of Rikki Neave’s last hours
• Sunday, November 27, 1994
Ruth is at home with husband Dean and two of his traveller friends. Also in the house were her children, Sheridean, six months, Rochelle, three, Rebecca, eight (who did not normally live there), and Rikki.
In the morning Ruth had taken Sheridean to hospital (the diagnosis was gastroenteritis and asthma) and a helper, Brionie, had driven her there at 10.15am. She was back by 11.30am.
Rikki stayed at home most of the day; Rebecca was collected at 1.20pm and Dean and his friends left at 4pm.
In the evening Rikki went to a neighbour’s for a while, but was home about 9.15pm and went to bed.
• Monday, November 28, 1994
Ruth has been up much of the night with Sheridean and slept on the sofa in the lounge, next to her daughter’s ‘Moses’ basket. It had become a familiar routine while Sheridean had been ill with chest problems.
The alarm goes off at 8.30am; Ruth goes upstairs to tell Rikki to get ready for school.
Rikki told his mum he wanted breakfast, she told him to get some, and while Ruth dozed Rikki left the house alone. In a statement Ruth spoke of Rikki arguing with Rochelle. Before leaving though he leaned over at Sheridean, grinned, as Ruth fell back to sleep. She was never to see her son again.
At 4pm she was concerned he hadn’t returned. Ruth called on a neighbour at about 4.30pm to ask if she had seen Rikki: she was the same neighbour he had visited the night before. But she had no idea of where he might be.
At 6pm Ruth called police.
Reports vary as to whether he missed school completely that day or whether, as one report suggested, he left at 11am.
Numerous statements collated by police spoke of shopkeepers, paper boys, workmen and others seeing him that day but, mostly, the sightings were discounted as being unreliable.
At 12.05pm the following day Rikki’s body was found.
A murder hunt began.
But during the questioning the officers concede that Rikki’s body could have been there before the officer searched and he missed it.
Gary: “Pc McNeil searched that area at 7pm?
DC Warren: “Pc McNeil might have missed him.
DCI Brunning: He did say he searched that area and did not find him. He’s not a search team (Det Con Warren points out Pc Rob McNeil was a firearms officer) and could have quite easily missed him.
(Gary and Ruth explain that Pc McNeil was a trained firearms officer and they were making out he did not do his job properly; they maintained he could not have missed Rikki if he had been there).
Gary: Very iffy then?
DCI Brunning: But he made it very clear in his view that he didn’t miss Rikki but in fact he could have done, umm as it is now a crucial point.”
The two officers then discuss at length various and possible sightings of Rikki on the day he went missing with Det Con Warren, insistent that the last “credible” sighting was at lunchtime.
She says “the timing, the clothing, the people that Rikki was with stays conflicted.
“Unfortunately they were drug addicts, so it wasn’t a credible sighting and we couldn’t validate it.”
Another possible sighting of Rikki was out of a bedroom window and through a net curtain and that was by “a young boy who thought he sees Rikki”.
One suspect is suggested to the officers by Ruth but Det Con Warren says they must remember “this was a long time ago. He was a drug addict. It’s a possibility he may be dead or left the country. I have looked and not found yet….”
(Ruth is heard questioning the ‘random’ nature of police deciding which witnesses to believe and argues that even drug addicts can be honest and tell the truth!)
Ruth then questions the police officers about the allegations of child cruelty which she says “were all done on hearsay, many separately reporting at the time after the fact or never reported to social services and when reported it was unfounded”.
Det Chief Insp Brunning tells her that “it does not matter if you had done it or not, you pleaded guilty so you must have done it”.
Ruth: “I don’t care whether it was hearsay or not. I never did what I was accused of”
DCI Brunning: The point I am making is you say it was hearsay, is that what you are trying to say but courts allow hearsay now…”
Ruth: I don’t care whether they use it or not now; at the end of the day they said I killed Rikki and I bloody didn’t do that.”
DCI Brunning: “I know that and you got acquitted of that.
Ruth: It’s not the bloody point though is it?
DCI Brunning: You were convicted of the abuse and you don’t get convicted if you haven’t done it and where there is no evidence…..
Ruth: No, no, excuse me, I am telling you now I had to plead guilty to it.
DCI Brunning: Ruth, Ruth, listen to me.
Ruth: No, no. I am telling you right there was no evidence to the neglect and cruelty. It was convenient hearsay because the prosecution was going to say I killed Rikki by accident through neglect and cruelty…
DCI Brunning: No, that was not the case.
Ruth: I don’t give a s***.
DCI Brunning: What I am trying to tell you is, if you listen…
Ruth: Don’t tell me what I already know.
DCI Brunning: Ruth, I am trying to say to you the charges of neglect and cruelty were different to the murder
Ruth: No it is not. No it is not.
DCI Brunning: It is.
Ruth: The prosecution never said that.
DCI Brunning: I am telling you it is, you are asking my perspective on it, you either hear it or you don’t…I don’t mind. I am trying to fill in the gaps. Is what you are saying is that you had been told by your counsel to plead guilty?
Ruth: Yes they did.
DCI Brunning: Then if you have done nothing to plead guilty for, it begs the question why did you plead guilty?
Ruth: I am telling you that the prosecution agreed and the judge and my counsel that if I plead guilty to the neglect and cruelty then they will do the murder on its own. Considering they had no evidence on the murder they were going to play it that I killed Rikki through neglect and cruelty so the only chance of getting a not guilty...
DCI Brunning: Who is saying that? I don’t understand
Ruth: I don’t care, forget about it. I know what happened. I was there.
The following conversation briefly touches upon Gary asking if they are closer to finding the killer.
DCI Brunning: You have asked us to look at it again, we have looked at certain things, and you asked us to do. We have done that and there is no way forward.
Ruth: So you have drawn a line to it then?
DCI Brunning: There is no other person that you have suggested or who you might think is responsible for Rikki’s death, nothing is standing out with evidence. There is no other person that Andrea and I can see that is responsible for Rikki’s murder and the information you have given us and the evidence you asked us to look at has drawn a blank.
So in terms of who killed Rikki, there is no other person other than Ruth given what she had to go through other than her. There is no one in the investigation we can see or say who is responsible. We can’t say well it’s that person responsible.
If you want the root the branches that the issue is the police officer going into the woods and saying he went in a certain area in the dark in the winter and he maintained all throughout that based on his walk through somewhere that was pitch black that Rikki’s body, in fact by any sensible assessment of what he did, in the conditions that he did it in, there is every possibility he missed him.
(Det Chief Insp Brunning continues outlining the possibility that the officer did in fact miss the body when he searched the wood)
DCI Brunning: I know I can walk through in a middle of a field in broad daylight and easily miss a body (clicks his fingers) just like that… and I can do that in the day time as well. So quite how he was absolutely certain and so sure I do not know. That is what has created a problem.
Gary: Excuses the whole time line then doesn’t it?
DCI Brunning: Agreed. Yeah, yeah.
Gary: That screws everything then.
DCI Brunning: Agreed because the bottom line is if he is making that assertion that is it isn’t possible then it creates a massive… who did, who did it then?
(Some time later Det Chief Insp Brunning begins to bring the meeting to an end. It is after Ruth has suggested other possible suspects)
DCI Brunning: Just so that you get it from our scene of perspective we have gone as far as we can in our investigation. I am very impartial around this OK. If there was something in there that raises concern that the questions you have asked I would reinvestigate this right now because I am a detective.
Mrs Neave said she brought the meeting to end “because I was furious at the way they were humouring me and not taking me seriously. If I did it, why am I pushing police to reopen the case?
“Their case is flawed and all they are saying is I did it and go away. The thing is I am not going anywhere.
“I will be in their faces until I am taken seriously.
“Until now my son’s killer or killers have got away with it and no way can you call that justice for me or Rikki.
“I will fight anyone who gets in my way.”