Ricky Smith: Met Police hunting for killer in unsolved 1997 murder case

“There isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t think of Ricky and the person he would have become.”

Met Police detectives are hunting for the killer of a 25-year-man who was fatally stabbed in Islington in 1997 in a “cruel” attack which has never been solved.

Ricky Smith had two young children when he was killed in an unprovoked attack as he walked home in north London with his partner after an evening out.

Officers have what they believe to be the DNA profile of the killer but it has never been matched on any national or international police databases.

Ricky Smith was murdered in 1997. Photo: Met Police

Police also believe the same suspect is responsible for a similar attack which took place just hours earlier in west London, on Juan Marais, who survived.

Now, 25 years after Ricky’s murder, the force are urging anyone with information to come forward - with a reward of upto £25,000 offered for information leading to a prosecution.

His family said: “There isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t think of Ricky and the person he would have become.

“Ricky was just 25 years old when he was cruelly taken away and we have now had the same amount of time without him, so this is a particularly poignant anniversary.”

Ricky as a child in a car. Photo: Met Police

DI Will Reynolds, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are confident that this DNA profile belongs to the man responsible for these attacks.

“Unfortunately there has been no match on our database or any international systems, meaning he does not appear to have come to police attention since these offences.”

He added: “It is highly likely that the individual who committed these crimes was a violent man and it is extremely unusual that he does not appear to have re-offended.

“We therefore believe that after he carried out these horrific crimes, he disappeared, very likely leaving the UK and not returning.”

Ricky at the beach with his daughter. Photo: Met Police

On October 3, 1997, Ricky and his partner were walking on Highbury Park, nearing the junction with Hamilton Park, when they were approached by an unknown man.

He came towards Ricky and stabbed him once in the chest before running away in the direction he had come from.

Members of the public rushed to help Ricky but he died in hospital several hours later.

Juan Marais, a South African national living in London, was leaving Kensal Green tube station when a man approached him and asked for the time.

A blue baseball cap was recovered. Photo: Met Police

As Juan looked at his watch, the offender stabbed him twice in the chest and ran away.

Juan spent 15 days in intensive care with serious injuries but later made a full recovery.

DI Reynolds continued: “We are asking the public, especially those who are or were living in the Highbury or Kensal Green areas, to think about whether they knew of anyone who seemed to vanish in 1997.

“The suspect is a black male who would have been aged between 25 and 35 at the time.”

A red and white jacket with a distinctive Chicago Bulls motif was also found. Photo: Met Police

Following the murder, officers retrieved items believed to have been worn by the attacker.

These included a blue baseball cap and a red and white jacket with a distinctive Chicago Bulls motif.

Both were found discarded on nearby Conewood Street in two plastic bags.

The knife, used in both attacks, was also found in a back garden on the junction with Aubert Park and Aubert Road.

And Ricky’s family continued: “Since that day in 1997 our lives have had a huge void – we have had to live without our son, brother and two children have grown up without their father.

“Nothing will ever bring him back but we are desperate for answers and to find out who was responsible for turning our world upside down.

“Please, if you have any information that could help the police, then get in touch.”

A reward of up to £25,000 is offered for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the person(s) responsible for the murder and the attack on Juan Marais.

Anyone with information should call 020 8785 8267 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.