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Ricky Reel: Police issue fresh appeal as family allege ‘race played role’ in police probe

According to reports, Ricky had been out drinking with friends on 14 October 1997, and his body was found in the River Thames a week later.

Ricky Reel (Photo: Family handout)

By: Pramod Thomas

The Metropolitan Police on Friday (14) made a fresh appeal for information regarding the tragic death of Ricky Reel in Kingston in 1997 as his family alleged that ‘race played a role’ in his death.

According to the family, racism played a key role in the tragedy as he 20-year-old’s body was found in the River Thames, a week after he had been racially abused in London.

Reel’s mother Sukhdev Reel has been campaigning for the past 25 years for answers surrounding her son’s death.

In 2014, it was emerged that officers from the Met’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) had spied on Sukhdev when was contacted by officers from Operation Hern which is examining the practices of undercover policing.

The British Indian alleged that police targeted her because of her ethnicity.

“We have every right to ask for justice – same as everybody else. So why was it that I was the only one picked up – asking for justice? Was it because of my colour? I know my race, my colour, my religion, my caste all played a big part in this case. I was treated like a second class citizen,” she was quoted as saying by the BBC.

On the 25th anniversary of Ricky’s disappearance on Friday, she said that she felt unwell upon learning officers spied on them.

“I came around and they said, ‘don’t worry it’s just collateral intrusion, it’s not spying’. Later on when we discovered that we were [being spied on] we asked for proof of that,” she told the broadcaster.

Sukhdev revealed that she and her daughter Trish are now core participants in the latest inquiry.

According to media reports, Ricky had been out drinking with friends on 14 October 1997, and his body was found in the River Thames a week later.

In its fresh appeal, the Met Police said that an inquest in 1999 into Ricky’s death returned an open verdict.

“No arrests have been made, or charges brought in connection with Ricky’s death,” the force said.

The Met also ruled out the claim that officers had targeted family members associated with the campaign, or the campaign itself.

According to the Met, Ricky and three friends had been planning an evening in a local nightclub.

“As they walked through the town centre in Kingston, two white men, aged between 18 and 30, saw Ricky and his friends and shouted racial abuse. There was an altercation between Ricky’s friends and the men – Ricky did not get involved and he walked away on his own and disappeared,” the Met said in a statement.

“Tragically, his body was found in the Thames at the end of Downhall Road on 21 October 1997.”

Commander Catherine Roper, Specialist Crime, said: “It has been 25 years since Ricky died. My thoughts are with Ricky’s family and the pain they must still feel today.

“I hope that this appeal will encourage people to come forward with any piece of information they may have, however small they think it is, to help us piece together what happened that night in Kingston.

“We remain hopeful that we can provide answers for the family, and we need the help of the public to achieve this.’”

The Met now urged anyone with information to contact police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Eastern Eye

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