Cold case review links Harlesden stabbing to unsolved Highbury murder

A review into 1997 killing uncovers DNA evidence linking the two crimes

Fresh evidence has emerged linking the unsolved murder of a young father 14 years ago with a stabbing in Kensal Green hours before.

A cold case review into the killing of 25-year-old Ricky Smith on Friday, October 3,1997, has linked DNA evidence found near the scene to a knife attack on Juan Marais in College Road two hours earlier.

Mr Marais, who was 21 at the time, was on his way to a friend’s BBQ at around 9.15pm when a man who had asked him for the time pulled out a knife and stabbed him several times.

His attacker stole a carrier bag containing some beers Mr Marais had bought for the party and walked away.

Just over two hours later at around 11.40pm Mr Smith, a father-of-two, was walking home with his partner in Highbury, north London, after a night out when a man stabbed him in the chest in an unprovoked attack.

He died on arrival at the hospital.

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In both cases the attacker was a black man aged between 18 to 30.

Detectives investigating the murder found a jacket, a baseball bat, a knife and two carrier bags near the scene but his killer remained at large.

However following a review of the case, forensic tests on the items linked Mr Smith’s murder to the stabbing of Mr Marais.

The development has lead detectives to make a renewed appeal for information leading to the attacker of both men.

Detective Inspector Colette Smyth, who is now investigating the case, said: “Ricky was a devoted father of a 10-year-old girl and a 14-month-old boy.

“His young son grew up never knowing Ricky and his devoted parents and family have had to cope for 14 years without him.

“The suspect did not utter a word before producing a knife and stabbing Ricky in the chest.

“His family and friends have had over a decade of unanswered questions and have had to find ways to explain his untimely death to his devastated children.”

Adding that Mr Marais was lucky to survive his attack, she said: “We are determined to hold the perpetrator to account and to achieve closure for the family of Ricky and Mr Marais who have suffered for these last 14 years.”

Mr Marais, who is now 35, said: “I know I was very lucky to have survived.

“I was just 21 at the time and Ricky was only 25. I had another chance at life but he didn’t get the same chance. I’m hoping that by speaking out we can finally achieve some closure for Ricky’s family.”

If you have any information you can call the incident room on 020 8358 0100 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.