James Watson, 40, was arrested in 2016 after a ‘definitive’ DNA match was found on Rikki Neave’s clothing but he left the country to Europe when released on bail, a court heard
A man is accused of leaving the country after he was arrested on suspicion of Rikki Neave’s murder, a court heard during his trial.
James Watson, 40, is accused of strangling six-year-old Rikki in a Peterborough wood in November 1994, before stripping and posing his body in a ‘star shape’.
He was arrested on April 19, 2016, after a match between his DNA profile and samples taken from Rikki’s clothing under a new investigation into the case.
Junior prosecutor Nathan Rasiah told jurors: “The police issued a press release that a man had been arrested in connection with the investigation, but in accordance with the usual protocol did not identify the man that they had arrested.”
After a final interview on April 20, Watson was released from police custody on bail.
Conditions of his bail were to reside at an address in Northampton with an 11pm curfew, jurors heard.
“On June 27, 2016, in breach of his license and bail conditions, Mr Watson failed to return to the approved premises in Northampton by 11pm,” Mr Rasiah said.
“As a result of that breach, on June 28, 2016 his license was revoked and he was recalled to prison, entitling a police officer to arrest him on sight and then to return him to prison.
“At 6.21pm on July 14, 2016, Mr Watson contacted his probation officer by email.
“It said ‘for now the only way is through my email, my phone is out the window but I can log on and pick up my mail. I want to return to the UK.”
The next day, July 15, Watson’s probation officer replied: ‘Whereabouts are you? How can we support you getting back to the UK?’
Watson wrote back: “Katy I am in a world of s**t, I left with that Collin under the assumption that he was going to Thailand and I could see a bit of Europe for a few days.
“It never turned out like that. Now I am homeless and living on the streets in Europe.
“I stayed in a room with some people I met but that was not long term now I don’t know what my next plan should be?
“I want to make it back for this bail, and I know I will be in trouble for my….. license but it’s done now, just picking up the pieces the best I can.
“I don’t know how you can help me or if you can, I just need to keep in touch with you, this will all be relevant in the future.”
The probation officer referred the matter to the police, the court heard.
DS Gan Thayanithy sent an email to Watson at 5.16pm that day.
He said: “James, I hope you understand why Katy has contacted me. Realistically it is the only way we can get you home.
“I am sorry that you are in a bad situation, but I am sure that with a bit of work we can sort it out.
“The immediate problem we have is that it is a Friday, and nothing can happen now until Monday.
“It is very important that you keep yourself safe until then.
“Northants Police have contacted the British authorities in Portugal on your behalf.
“I believe this is where you are, but please advise me if I am wrong.
“Because you don’t have a passport, you will need to go to the British Consulate so they can help you.”
On July 29, a European Arrest Warrant was issued requesting Watson’s extradition for breaching the terms of his license.
On August 2, Watson was arrested in Lisbon at the Consulate building in Portugal.
Ten days later on August 12, he was extradited to the UK.
The prosecution have now closed its case and Watson is due to give evidence on Monday.
Watson, of no fixed address, denies murdering Rikki between November 28 and 29.
The trial continues.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.