Hayes & Harlington Gazette
Renewed hope for Ricky Reel’s family
A MUM has been given fresh hope after police revealed officers were reviewing an investigation into her son’s death, 25 years after he was found dead in the River Thames.
On October 14 1997, Ricky Reel went missing after he and his friends, who were all South Asian, were subjected to an attack by two white men.
The 20-year-old, from West London, and his friends all ran in different directions and he was never seen again. His body was found seven days later, with his mum Sukhdev Reel always maintaining the racial element was never taken seriously and the police’s prejudicial views severely impeded any progress to the investigation.
No one has ever been arrested or charged in connection with Ricky’s death, but after 25 years Mrs Reel has been told the police will now take a new look at her son’s case.
This comes after The Mirror reported that she had been contacted by someone in July 2021 claiming to know who killed her son and that the fatal attack was racially motivated. That information was passed to the police with demands to speak to new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.
If the new information proves credible then an application can be made to re-open the inquest.
Mrs Reel and members of the Justice for Ricky Reel campaign met with Sir Mark on January 11, the first time they had been given a meeting with the Commissioner.
The Mirror reports that Mrs Reel has now received an email from the Metropolitan Police confirming it is “looking more closely at certain lines of enquiry from the original investigation”. The email adds: “These lines of enquiry are being followed up with fresh eyes and the benefit of modern technology so we can explore every possible avenue in the hope of providing answers to Ricky’s family”.
The force’s Major Inquiries Specialist Casework team will be conducting the investigation.
In 1999, a jury inquest ruled an “open verdict”, meaning the case cannot be closed until a firm conclusion has been reached. Mrs Reel said jurors did not hold back in listing the failures of the police and the spying on the justice campaign, which was deeply traumatic and led to a breakdown in trust.
In a statement, Mrs Reel said: “We’ve waited 25 years for justice. I hope the police under the leadership of the new Commissioner can finally approach this case with an open mind and make every effort to obtain justice for my son. When dealing with racism and injustice, the litmus test is always in their actions and not in promises.”
At the time of Ricky’s death, police concluded he had fallen into the river accidentally while trying to urinate and had subsequently drowned. It emerged during the inquest that officers had failed to collect any forensic evidence or his clothes from the scene.
They had made the assumption of him urinating because the buttons of his jeans were open, despite it being common for clothes to open and loosen in water. The inquest heard that police did not collect vital CCTV in time or speak to potential witnesses until months after Ricky’s death – meaning any chance of finding crucial clues was missed.
Mrs Reel has maintained that police did not take the case seriously and failed to gather crucial evidence because of Ricky’s race. She previously told The Mirror: “They (police) didn’t prioritise it from day one. They didn’t believe us.
“They belittled us simply because of the colour of my skin. Had I been white the treatment would have been very different.
“They never believed the racial attack happened. They never connected it.”