Crimewatch to feature appeal to catch knifeman who struck in Kensal Rise and Islington

A young father died and another man seriously injured in random attacks 15 years ago

Detectives will be making a fresh appeal for information about a knifeman who struck in Kensal Rise and Islington 15 years ago on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme tonight (Thursday).

A young father died and another man was seriously injured after they were stabbed in random attacks believed to be carried out by the same perpetrator on October 3, 1997.

Juan Marais was 21 when he was knifed by a man who struck up a conversation with him as walked along College Road at around 9.15pm.

He suffered serious injuries to his chest and abdomen but went on to make a full recovery.

Just over two hours later Ricky Smith was stabbed in the chest as he made his way home from a night out in Islington at around 11.40pm.

The 25-year-old was rushed to Whittington Hospital but died on arrival.

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A blue baseball cap, a distinctive ‘Chicago Bulls’ jacket, a five-inch lock knife, and two carrier bags were discovered near the murder scene.

Last October, detectives carried out a cold case review which threw up DNA evidence linking the two attacks.

In both cases the attacker was described as a black man aged between 18 and 30.

Investigating officers are keen to trace a black man who was seen near the murder scene the following day trying to retrieve the items discovered by the police.

He told a resident he had seen a man throw the items over a wall and would tell the police but failed to do so.

Detective Inspector Colette Smyth, who is leading the hunt, said: “I am appealing for witnesses and in particular the man who went to retrieve the items to please come forward.

“I want people to link Ricky’s murder and the attack on Mr Marais with the description of the clothing and suspect.

“I can’t believe that over the last 15 years someone out there does not know who carried out these attacks. Please come forward with any information.”

Tonight’s appeal will feature reconstructions and interviews with the investigation team, Mr Marais and Mr Smith’s family, including his daughter Mikala.

There is a �20,000 reward on offer for information leading to the killer.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8358 0100 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.