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Home Breaking A man accused of killing a six-year-old boy told his sister he “messed up” by leaving Britain while he was under investigation, a court heard

A man accused of killing a six-year-old boy told his sister he “messed up” by leaving Britain while he was under investigation, a court heard


Rikki Neave’s naked body was found strangled near his home in Peterborough on 29 November 1994.

James Watson, who was 13 at the time of Rikki’s death, denies murder.

The Old Bailey heard the 40-year-old left for France three months after he was arrested on suspicion of Rikki’s murder.

Jurors heard Mr Watson was arrested in April 2016 when the case was reopened – and stayed in Northamptonshire after his release under investigation.

He left the UK three months later with another man in a motorhome, before contacting his sister, Clair Perna, from France.

Ms Perna, 43, told the court her brother said he “was in a lot of trouble and he had made a huge mistake”, telling her he had “messed up” by leaving the country.

She said: “Next time he rang, he said, ‘I need help. I’m in more trouble than I imagined and I need to get back to the UK’.”

Ms Perna told her brother to try to contact a man she knew called Mario in Porto, Portugal.

After being told he would need a passport interview, she said the pair opted for a “second option” of going to an embassy in Portugal.

Ms Perna said she told police Mr Watson was “going into the embassy”.

“I believe they would have to identify who he was and that would be me with a phone call … and they would give him emergency travel documents to get home,” she told the court.

But she said she was told her brother had been arrested and was being transported back to Britain.

Ms Perna said she and her brother grew up on the Welland Estate in Peterborough, staying with their father after their parents separated in September 1990.

She later went to live with her mother while Mr Watson was moved to a children’s home in the nearby town of March, the court was told.

Ms Perna denied knowing the Neave family, who also lived on the estate, or visiting them with her half-brother, Andrew Bailey.

Under cross-examination she said her brother had never spoken to her about his involvement in the Rikki Neave investigation and it came as a “surprise”.

The trial continues.

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