Ricky Reel’s body was found in the River Thames on October 21, 1997, and no one has ever been arrested or charged in the case.
By: Pramod Thomas
The mother of Ricky Reel whose body was found in the River Thames 25 years ago has said ‘publishing the book Ricky Reel: Silence is Not an Option and receiving a human rights award for her fight for justice’ were the two positive things happened in her life in 2022.
Sukhdev Reel still continues her fight to know the truth behind her son’s tragic death.
Reel was just 20 years old when he went out with friends on October 14, 1997 and never came back.
“It is a difficult time of year, my son Ricky is always the one missing from the family gathering and it is very hard to get through this festive season without him. If I had an appointment to meet the commissioner it would have been made easier to deal with. I would have felt that we have been listened to and maybe move forward with a new investigation to finally find out the truth about Ricky’s death,” the bereaved mother told The Mirror.
“And now all the children and grandchildren will be sitting around Ricky’s empty chair. I can’t say anything to the empty chair because I have nothing to tell my son. Things have changed a lot this year with my new book titled ‘Ricky Reel: Silence is not an Option’ and the award for my contribution to human rights.”
According to her, the family could have some peace during Christmas time if they get justice.
“But we carry on to get justice for Ricky and all the other families who are in the same situation to get answers and peace. There is no peace without justice,” she is reported to have said.
In October, during the 25th anniversary of his death, the Metropolitan Police made a fresh appeal for information regarding the tragic 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.
His mother has been campaigning for the past 25 years for answers surrounding her son’s death.
“Justice is the only thing I can cling to and I promise I will not give up I make that promise to Ricky every Christmas as his empty chair will not let me rest and I always question myself ‘why is Ricky not in his chair with the family?’ How do you get justice when the head of the institutions is not meeting with us to resolve this case? Without them, I cannot move forward,” she was quoted as saying by The Mirror.
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.”
Police came to the conclusion that Reel must have drowned after accidently falling into the Thames while attempting to urinate. The inquest learned that police did not contact prospective witnesses or gather crucial CCTV until months after Ricky died.
Family members and specialists testified at the inquest that the victim had a fear of open water and that it was typical for clothing to open and become loose in the water.
His mother alleged that because of his colour, authorities did not take the matter seriously and did not gather important evidence.