Sisters of Murdered 6-Year-Old Say Killer's 15-Year Sentence Too 'Lenient'

The sisters of murdered 6-year-old Rikki Neave have called for a review of his killer's "lenient" 15-year prison sentence.

James Watson was 13 when he lured Rikki into the woods in Peterborough, England, before strangling him to death on November 28, 1994.

Watson, now 41, was handed life in prison with a minimum term of 15 years at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, or Old Bailey, on June 24.

Victim Rikki Neave
Rikki Neave was 6 when he was killed by James Watson, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the killing. Matthew Newby, SWNS/Zenger

Rikki's three sisters - Rochelle, Rebecca and Sheridan - said the sentence, which includes a two-year reduction for the time Watson spent in custody, is "too lenient."

The family is disputing the court's decision to sentence Watson as if he were a child because the crime was committed when he was a teenager.

They wrote in an online petition: "James Watson evaded justice for over 27 years. He was able to live a normal life.

"This killer shouldn't have been allowed to have been sentenced as a child. He will serve 12.5 years for ruining our whole lives.

"Me and my other siblings all suffer with mental health problems due to this.

"I really feel that the sentence given was far too lenient and that he will always be a danger to young children and young men and of course members of the public."

Rikki's family urged members of the public to write to the Attorney General's Office of the United Kingdom to request a formal review of Watson's sentence.

At the Old Bailey last month, the court heard Watson would only be released after serving his sentence - and once the parole board was satisfied he would no longer present a risk to the public.

The sisters of murdered schoolboy Rikki Neave have called for a review of his killer's "lenient" 15-year rison sentence. (Matthew Newby, SWNS/Zenger)

The petition, which was launched Monday, had received more than 425 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

Michelle Wright, who commented on the petition, said she was friends with Rikki and that his murderer "doesn't deserve to ever be freed."

"Being a friend of Rikki's at the time and living on Welland Estate, the impact on the community was huge," Wright said.

James Watson
James Watson, now 41, was handed life in prison with a minimum term of 15 years on June 24, 2022, for the killing of Rikki Neave, 6, in 1994. Matthew Newby, SWNS/Zenger

"All of us local kids' childhoods were affected by this.

"We were all taught to be wary of adults, particularly those who were childless.

"No longer allowed to play out on the streets. Going out in groups and not alone.

"We had restricted freedom because our parents wanted us to be safe, while our friend's killer wasn't even an adult!!!

"He's had too many years of freedom, has shown no remorse for what he did.

"He doesn't deserve to ever be freed. R.I.P Rikki. I will never forget you."

Paul Ivory also commented: "He had many years of freedom he knew what he had done and frankly 15 years is not enough. He robbed [his] life."

The Guardian reported that Watson has several previous convictions, including sexual assault, and was only suspected in the case in 2016 after DNA connected him to Rikki. The breakthrough came after Rikki's mother, Ruth, was acquitted of his murder in 1996.

Produced in association with SWNS.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.