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Ricky Reel's family calls for case review 16 years on

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Media captionThe body of Asian student Ricky Reel was found in the River Thames in 1997

The family of a man who went missing and died 16 years ago is calling for a review of his case.

The body of Asian student Ricky Reel, 20, was found in the River Thames in 1997 after he and his friends were confronted by two white men who shouted racial abuse and attacked them.

An open verdict was recorded at Mr Reel's inquest in 1999.

His family want police to investigate further after a woman contacted Mr Reel's mother naming a suspect.

'Insufficient evidence'

The 20-year-old Brunel University student was last seen alive on 15 October, 1997, after a night out with three friends in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London.

Two white youths had attacked the group of young Asian men. As his friends fought them off. Mr Reel disappeared.

His body was found a week later.

At the time, police said his death was probably an accident. But his family have always maintained he was murdered.

There were two police investigations, neither of which established exactly how Mr Reel died.

It was a high-profile case that came four years after the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

A few months ago, a new potential lead in the investigation emerged.

Image caption Sukhdev Reel has criticised the police investigation

Mr Reel's mother Sukhdev was contacted by a woman who claimed she had information about a young man who may have been involved in her son's death.

Mrs Reel said: "She gave a name as to who he is and where he is. He is currently in prison for a murder.

"We passed that information to the police and the police have investigated.

"They have come back and said the person who gave the information is too frightened to speak to the police and that maybe this person has learning disabilities and may not be credible."

'Strong lead'

The Metropolitan Police would not give any more details but told BBC London: "We can confirm inquiries were recently made by officers from the Special Casework Investigation Team after information was received by a member of the public.

"There was ultimately insufficient evidence to take inquiries further."

Suresh Grover, from the Southall Monitoring Group, has supported the family since Mr Reel first went missing.

Together with Mrs Reel and Tish Reel, Mr Reel's younger sister, recently met with officers at Scotland Yard.

"This is the first time after a long time that a witness has come forward and named what the witness thinks is a possible suspect - that's how strong the lead is," said Mr Grover.

"The police have tried to interview the witness.

"For various reasons that witness has not come forward and given a proper statement to the police, so based on the emails that she sent to the family which have been handed to the police, they've done their investigation."

Mrs Reel wants a review of the case. She wants information on what has been investigated and a new witness appeal with enhanced CCTV images from 1997.

'Can't rest'

She added: "The day when Ricky was taken out of the river, the clothes he was wearing should not have been returned to the family. They gave them to us.

"I wanted to have those clothes, so I just came home and put them in the washing machine.

"There was a big tear in his shirt and then they accused me of damaging my son's clothes."

Miss Reel is now a partner in a top legal firm with solicitor Imran Khan who represented the Stephen Lawrence family.

She said: "I became a lawyer because it was my way of processing everything that had happened to me.

"I just kept seeing how a normal family like ourselves, not rich, can be turned upside down overnight.

"You can be completely normal and secure to completely vulnerable in a heartbeat and then you're reliant on people like the police in authority to help you."

Mrs Reel added: "I feel I can't rest until I found out what happened to Ricky.

"I know Ricky was killed. And I have been telling the police, everybody else who's listening, my son was murdered. But I can't find out who's done it."

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