Murder of Rikki Neave investigation explored in 24 Hours In Police Custody tonight

Who killed Rikki Neave?

24 Hours In Police Custody is back on Channel 4 tonight (4 July) as cameras follow the investigation into the murder of Rikki Neave.

The two-part special explores the biggest ever unsolved murder case in the history of Cambridgeshire Police which spanned almost 30 years.

The killing of Rikki Neave, a six-year-old child, shocked the nation in 1994.

When he failed to return home, his mother sounded the alarm. Rikki’s body was found the next day, laid out in woodland close to his home; naked and posed in a star shape.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Fulwood says in the film: “Most murders are solved in the first 24 hours, but this was a real whodunnit.”

Rikki’s mother, Ruth, became the original prime suspect following accusations of neglect of her children and an apparent interest in murder and black magic.

Seven weeks later, Ruth was arrested and charged with her son’s murder but was acquitted in 1996.

Fifteen years on and a team of dedicated officers from the Major Crime Unit of Cambridgeshire police are authorised by the most senior officers to begin a fresh investigation.

It’s decided that no one from the original team should be involved. For the small, handpicked team of detectives solving this murder will take years and it will become the case of their careers.

Painstaking analysis of the original evidence reveals chilling witness testimony that puts a new suspect James Watson – a ‘troubled’ 13-year-old boy ‘with a propensity for violence’ – together with Rikki on the day of his disappearance.

The two boys are seen walking towards the woodland where Rikki’s body would later be recovered. Officers pick their way through hundreds of pieces of evidence, revisit expert evidence discounted in the original case as they seek to determine whether Watson’s alibi is watertight and to pin down the crucial timings of the day.

Cameras follow as a forensic breakthrough is revealed, but once again Watson appears to be two steps ahead of the police presenting them with a conundrum which may make it impossible to prove a case against him.

Meanwhile progress is seriously hampered by the loss of evidence, the destruction of exhibits, and the challenges of testing decades-old eye-witness testimony.

The Crown Prosecution Service is reluctant to risk another failed trial as the series follow the ‘cat and mouse game’ between the detectives determined to find justice and the suspect determined to evade it.

24 Hours In Police Custody airs on Channel 4 on Monday, 4 July and Tuesday, 5 July at 9PM.

Both parts will be available to stream on All 4 after the first airs on TV.