CPS decision following reinvestigation into death of Rikki Neave

|News, Violent crime

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided there is insufficient evidence to charge a man in relation to the death of six-year-old Rikki Neave.

Rikki Neave’s body was found in woodland area on the Welland Estate, Peterborough, on 29 November 1994.

The CPS reviewed a file of evidence following a reinvestigation by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit.

Paul Scothern of the CPS, said: “Once the police have carried out an investigation, a file of evidence may be submitted to the CPS.

“This file is then reviewed in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which outlines the standards that prosecutors must follow when they make decisions about whether charges can be brought. In order to begin a prosecution, we have to be satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that it is in the public interest to prosecute.

“We considered a range of evidence obtained by police from the time of Rikki’s disappearance to the recent reinvestigation.

“We have decided that the evidence is insufficient for a realistic prospect of conviction and therefore for charge.

“The deliberate killing of a child is shocking and tragic, but we cannot bring charges if there is not enough evidence to take to court.

"Rikki’s family have been informed of our decision and given a full explanation. We have also offered to meet with them."

Notes to editors

  • It is not the function of the CPS to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for the criminal court to consider.
  • The CPS assessment of any case is not in any sense a finding of, or implication of, any guilt or criminal conduct. It is not a finding of fact, which can only be made by a court, but rather an assessment of what it might be possible to prove to a court, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
  • This assessment is based on the evidence available arising out of the police investigation and not on the evidence that is likely to be gathered by the defence, and likely to be used to test the prosecution evidence. The CPS charging decision is therefore necessarily an assessment on the basis of the evidence that is available to the CPS at the time the decision is made.
  • CPS prosecutors must also keep every case under review, so that they take account of any change in circumstances that occurs as the case develops, including what becomes known of the defence case. If appropriate, the CPS may change the charges or stop a case.
  • A decision was made to instruct an independent Queen’s Counsel (QC) Barrister to provide an additional review of the evidence. The advice from the QC was in agreement with the CPS decision not to charge.
  • Paul Scothern is a Crown Advocate in the Complex Casework Unit for the CPS East of England.
  • Rikki Neave’s body was found on 29 November 1994.
  • Rikki’s mother, Ruth Neave, was tried and acquitted of his murder at Peterborough Crown Court in 1996. She received a seven year custodial sentence having pleaded guilty to offences of child neglect.
  • The investigation was re-opened as a “Cold Case” investigation in June 2015 by officers of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit.

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