The words spoken by police chief to Ruth Neave today: “I wanted to see you in person and look you in the eye to tell you we have done everything possible to find justice and truth”.
PUBLISHED: 16:39 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 21 June 2018
A police chief who led the re-opened inquiry into the murder of Rikki Neave told his mother Ruth today that “I wanted to see you in person and look you in the eye to tell you we have done everything possible to find justice and truth”.
Assistant chief constable Paul Fullwood called a special meeting at police headquarter in Huntingdon to explain to Mrs Neave and her husband Gary that the three year re-investigation had failed to find sufficient new evidence to bring charges against anyone.
Accompanied by some of the 30 strong team he assembled three years ago to conduct the re-investigation he hinted how near he had come to bringing charges but ultimately the Crown Prosecution Service felt the evidence simply wasn’t strong enough.
He described it as one of the most “thorough and complex investigations” of his career.
“And as we embarked on this journey no stone was left unturned,” Mr Fullwood told her.
He said at one stage following an arrest police felt they had a prima facie case to bring against a suspect but following conservations with Crown prosecutors and lawyers – and often “quite heated meetings” – the decision had been made to bring the current inquiry to an end with no identifiable suspect in the frame.
“This is one we wanted to solve,” Mr Fullwood said. “So that’s why we have called you in –I always agreed you would be first to know, you are first to know, we felt we owed that to you.”
He promised however that “the investigation will always remain open, fresh information or intelligence sought and by default we have to review it every two years”. Under current Home Office guidelines all cold cases are reviewed bi-annually.
However Mr Fullwood said he would encourage Mrs Neave to meet with the CPS – which has now been arranged – and to consider the law that allows a victim to appeal a decision not to prosecute.
Police handed Mrs Neave a detailed explanatory letter from the CPS outlining their reasoning and this will now be evaluated and further discussions held to decide if an appeal goes ahead.
“We’ve dealt with 80 to 100 odd murders in recent years and this has been one of the most complex and difficult,” said Mr Fullwood.
And he told her that throughout the investigation he and his team had always treated Mrs Neave as a parent.
“If we thought differently we would have treated you as a suspect,” he said, a recall of the fact that Mrs Neave had originally been charged with Rikki’s murder before being found not guilty by a jury at Northampton Crown Court. She was later jailed for seven years after admitting neglect.
Police today revealed that during the past three years they have taken more than 1,200 statements and that they had covered every line of inquiry and the investigation would always remain open in the hope that fresh evidence or intelligence will come forward.
Mr Fullwood, who leads the three force Joint Protective Services, said: “It is disappointing that following our three year investigation we have not been able to identify the person or persons responsible for Rikki’s murder.
“However, although at this stage we have no further active lines of inquiry we remain committed to finding his killer.
“It is frustrating that despite three years of detailed investigations we are not able to tell Rikki’s family what happened on the day of his murder but we will not give up hope to do so one day.
“Whether it be new evidence or advances in forensic science, we will utilise every opportunity to investigate this murder and bring an offender to justice.
“We strongly believe someone out there knows the truth and remain hopeful that one day will come to light.”
Rikki Neave’s naked body was found in woodland near his home in Peterborough in November 1994.
Post-mortem tests showed he had been strangled.