• James Watson was 13 years old when he lured 6-year-old Rikki Neave into the woods and strangled the boy to death in 1994
  • Watson was handed a 15-year prison sentence for the crime Friday
  • DNA on the victim’s clothing led to his arrest

A 41-year-old man in the U.K. has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for the gruesome murder of a 6-year-old boy that occurred nearly three decades ago.

James Watson was 13 years old when he lured 6-year-old Rikki Neave into woodland near his home in Peterborough, England, in November 1994, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Watson strangled the child to fulfill a "morbid fantasy" he had told his mother about three days earlier. He then stripped Rikki and posed his naked body in a star shape for sexual gratification, according to the report.

Watson was handed a 15-year prison sentence for the crime Friday. He was found guilty of murder in April after evading justice for almost three years.

"Rikki was a child too willing to trust and engage with strangers. He never had the chance to be happy and lead a normal and fulfilling life. That opportunity was denied to him by his murderer," said the judge.

The boy's childhood "had been a sad one," the judge added. He was neglected and was "the victim of violent and cruel behavior."

Watson will only be released once he serves the minimum term of 15 years and once the Parole Board is satisfied that he no longer presents a risk to the public, according to the judge.

It was through a DNA match that authorities were able to pin down Watson. DNA was found in the victim's clothing following a re-examination of the case about two decades later.

In a police interview in 2016, Watson claimed that his DNA was present on Rikki's clothes because he picked him up to look at diggers through a hole in a fence. Watson then fled to Portugal while on bail on suspicion of murder but was extradited back to the U.K.

Ruth Neave was cleared of her son's murder in 1996 but was jailed for seven years after admitting child cruelty. She reportedly is considering challenging the conviction, many years after she was released.

Although she did not attend the sentencing hearing, Ruth described Watson as "pure evil, with no conscience."

"Like stones dropping in a pond, it (the murder) has rippled out far and wide. Rikki's murder left a massive hole in our lives and in our hearts. I miss him so much that it feels like I have had my heart ripped out," said a witness statement read on the mother's behalf.

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