Lakhvinder Reel — The murder that never was


In October 1997, an Asian youth fell in the river and drowned. His mother has been unable to accept the prosaic fact that his death was accidental. Now, somebody is playing mind games with her.

Lakhvinder Reel was out drinking with friends at Kingston on the night of October 14, 1997 when he went off on his own and was not seen alive again, at least not in the flesh. His body was fished out of the Thames the following week, and the police soon concluded there was no foul play. The most logical conclusion was that he had been urinating, had lost his footing, fallen in, and drowned.

His death came four and a half years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, a crime that was turned into a cause celébrè by people with more concern for their political agendas than justice. At that time and for years afterwards, any violent or sudden death of anyone who wasn’t white would be scrutinised intensely by the usual suspects in search of a racial angle. One victim of this was Reel’s mother, who insisted that he was attacked and murdered by racists.

The reality is that he had been involved in a minor altercation the previous night; a witness at the inquest said he was 99% certain that the two white youths involved in this so-called attack had caught a bus shortly afterwards. Reel was seen later than that on CCTV, in the small hours of October 15, walking alone.

Obviously the death of a son is unsettling for any mother, but there is really no evidence whatsoever that Lakhvinder (Ricky) Reel was murdered by racists or by anyone as Sukhdev Reel has insisted from the beginning and continues to insist until this day.

Although there is nothing romantic about dying young, it may be that she finds it more acceptable that he was murdered than by simply falling in the river.

As usual, a fair amount of disinformation has been spread about this case.

The 1999 inquest returned an open verdict, after which Keith Lee wrote on the World Socialist website: “When Sukhdev first contacted the police later that same evening to report her son missing, she was told to stop wasting police time”.

No she wasn’t, you made that up. The Reels didn’t phone the police until the following morning, and they were told that in accordance with standard police protocol, he was not officially a missing person, so in the absence of anything suspicious, they could do nothing for 24 hours.

It is possible the police did not take this case too seriously to begin with, but there is no reason they should have. Reel was 20 years old, and youths of that age are, well, we’ve all been there, those of us who were born before 1993!

Interestingly, at the inquest, the police suggested that Reel’s friends had been pressurised by race agitators to give a skewed version of what had really happened that fateful night. Suresh Grover had written to the three friends of the victim, and John Bevan QC put it to him that: “This letter endeavours to put forth to you [our] opinions and feelings without them being repressed and even coerced [sic] into changing [our] views.”

Mr Grover denied this, but he does have a track record for this sort of thing. Whereas here he sees a murder where one never happened, elsewhere he sees no murder where one was committed in front of a restaurant full of witnesses. Race activist Suresh Grover was one of the leading supporters of Satpal Ram, who back in November 1986 stabbed a man to death in a drunken frenzy, gloated over him as he lay dying, then fled the crime scene with the murder weapon in his hand.

Grover founded an organisation called the National Civil Rights Movement, something he said was inspired by Martin Luther King, (who must be turning in his grave). This misnamed organisation is now thankfully defunct, as is its website, but alas, there is the Internet Archive; here is the NCRM’s page about convicted murder Mumia Abu-Jamal. And here is its page about convicted murderer Satpal Ram; this latter contains at least eight serious distortions about the murder of Clark Pearce. For those who want the truth as documented by the Court of Appeal, check out this website.

His organisation may be defunct, but Mr Grover is still on the scene and at the side of Sukhdev Reel, although it is not him pulling the strings at present. The person responsible is a woman who sent Mrs Reel an e-mail in which she attempted to implicate another man in this non-murder. The police have made inquiries and have commented on this person diplomatically. Rather than describe her as a fruitcake, a hoaxer or simply a troll, they have said there is insufficient evidence to take the investigation further.

Clearly, nothing will ever convince Sukhdev Reel that her son was not murdered by those wicked racists, but there is just as clearly something obscene about the kind of people who are prepared to exploit a mother’s grief for a decade and a half in order to promote a political agenda.

[The above op-ed was first published March 14, 2013; the original wasn’t archived.]

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